Juvenile Judge Dan H. Michael Named President of National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Board of Directors

July 22, 2020

For decades now, Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Dan H. Michael has been a tireless advocate for the children of Tennessee. Whether serving as executive director of CASA or in various capacities in juvenile court over the years, Judge Michael has always put the best interests of children first.

In recognition of his dedication, impact, and influence, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) recently elected Judge Michael president of its Board of Directors.

The election was applauded by leaders of the Tennessee judiciary, including Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Holly Kirby, who administered the oath of office to Judge Michael during the NCJFCJ’s recent annual conference, which was held virtually. Justice Kirby and Judge Michael both grew up in the same working class Memphis neighborhood and are longtime friends and colleagues.

“What a joy it has been to watch Dan advance from being a lawyer for the Juvenile Court, to being a referee appointed by the elected Juvenile Court Judge, to being appointed the Chief Magistrate and Special Judge, and then finally being elected by the people of Shelby County as our Juvenile Court Judge,” Justice Kirby said. “It is my joy and my honor now to be part of this event, the culmination of his lifetime of passion and dedication to children and families, to administer the oath of office to him as president of this excellent organization.”

Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeff Bivins also extolled Judge Michael’s contributions to the state judiciary throughout his career.

“Tennessee’s judiciary is made up of individuals who not only strive to bring fairness and justice to the communities in which they serve but individuals who also lead outside their courtroom to make an impact at the national level,” Chief Justice Bivins said. “The NCJFCJ is in good hands with Judge Michael at the helm, and Tennessee’s judiciary is strong because of individuals like him.”

Judge Michael’s influence extends beyond just Tennessee, however. NCJFCJ CEO Joey Orduña Hastings explained how Judge Michael is also a national leader in the field of juvenile justice.

“Judge Dan Michael is the definition of judicial leadership—leading on and off the bench to create change in their community while impacting reform nationwide,” Orduna Hastings said. “Judge Michael’s active efforts in Memphis and Shelby County are a national model. He has created a trauma-responsive court and has eliminated juvenile court fees for children and families, shifting how we all approach systems reform. The NCJFCJ has been fortunate to have Judge Michael as an active leader for many years and his unwavering commitment to children and families will make him a seasoned leader of the NCJFCJ.”

Judge Michael received his law degree at Memphis State University’s Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. During law school, he volunteered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Memphis and Shelby County. Upon his graduation, he entered into law as a CASA attorney. He later became the executive director of CASA of Memphis and Shelby County, representing abused and neglected children at juvenile court.

Judge Michael was appointed Chief Counsel to Judge Kenneth Turner in 1995 and also served as Magistrate Pro Temp. Judge Turner later appointed him to the bench as a full-time Juvenile Court Referee in 2001. Judge Curtis S. Person appointed Judge Michael as Chief Magistrate and Special Judge in 2013. In 2014, Judge Michael was elected to the bench of the Memphis and Shelby County Juvenile Court in 2014.

Judge Michael was previously recognized by the American Bar Association of Young Lawyers for Significant Legal Contribution to Advancing the Welfare of our Nation’s Children and was awarded the Child Advocacy National Certificate of Recognition. Judge Michael has been a member of the NCJFCJ since 2003 and has been board director since 2016. He has also served on numerous NCJFCJ committees and as Treasurer and President-elect.

“This is a meaningful and significant appointment, and it reflects well upon the Memphis community,” said Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN-09). “As one of the oldest judicial membership organizations, the NCJFCJ plays an important role in guiding children and families through our often complex and confusing legal system. I am confident Judge Dan Michael’s expertise will be an asset to the organization and its members.”

Judge Michael was recently interviewed on Bloomberg Law to discuss his years on the bench, the work of the NCJFCJ, and his goals for juvenile and family courts.

Also, the NCJFCJ recently produced a video to celebrate Judge Michael’s new leadership position at the organization.