Trial Court judges are elected for terms of six years in non-partisan elections. A candidate must be a qualified elector, a resident of the judicial circuit, a lawyer who has been licensed to practice law for at least five years, and under 70 years of age.
Judge Archie Cameron Brown served as both the Chief Judge of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court from 2002 to 2007 and Chief Judge of the Washtenaw County Probate Court from 2004 to 2007. He previously served as Chief Judge of the Washtenaw County Trial Court from 2002 to 2004. He currently serves as Business Court Judge of the Circuit Court.
Judge Brown is an Adjunct Professor of Law at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, has served as Parliamentarian of the Representative Assembly of the State Bar of Michigan, after having served in the Assembly for two terms, has served on the Rules Committee of the Michigan Judges Association, and is a past Chair of the Washtenaw County Criminal Justice Collaborative Council.
Judge Brown was appointed by Governor John Engler to the 15th District Court in March of 1997 and subsequently was appointed to the Washtenaw County Circuit Court in March of 1999. He is currently assigned to the Family Division, Civil Division and Criminal Division of the Court.
Judge Brown is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, American Bar Association, Washtenaw County Bar Association, Michigan Judges Association, American Judges Association, American Judicature Society, the Federalist Society, the Catholic Lawyers Guild, and is a Fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation.
An Ann Arbor native, Judge Brown received his Juris Doctor from the University of Detroit School of Law, and his Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University. He has served on the Boards of several civic and charitable community organizations.
6 year term expires January, 2021
Judge Patrick J. Conlin, Jr. was elected by the voters of Washtenaw County in 2014 and took the bench on January 2, 2015. A graduate of Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard High School and the University of Notre Dame, Judge Conlin earned his juris doctor from Wayne State University in 1997.
Judge Conlin taught high school in New York and Chicago before law school. After taking the bar exam in early 1998, he joined the law firm of Keusch and Flintoft, PC where he continued working, becoming a partner, until 2014. His law practice included handling family law matters, probate and general civil litigation, as well as transactional work.
Judge Conlin is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, the American Bar Association and the Washtenaw County Bar Association (past president). He is a member of the Women Lawyers Association, the Michigan Association for Justice and the NAACP Ann Arbor Branch. He is a Rotarian and has served on the Boards of Trustees for the Chelsea Community Hospital, Chelsea Area Wellness Foundation, Chelsea Rotary Foundation and the Honey Creek Community School and the Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard High School school boards.
Judge Conlin is assigned family law cases, personal protection orders and juvenile court backup.
6 year term expires January, 2019
Judge Tim Connors has been a State Court Judge since 1991. For eleven of those years he served as a Chief Judge. He has served by appointment as Judge Pro Tem for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Judge Connors is the Presiding Judge of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court. He also presides over cases in the Civil and Domestic Divisions of the Washtenaw County Trial Court and handles the Neglect and Abuse docket for the Juvenile Court.
Judge Connors is the author of Our Children are Sacred, Why the Indian Child Welfare Act Matters; American Bar Association Judges Journal, Spring 2011 and Crow Dogs vs. Spotted Tail: Case Closed?; Michigan Bar Journal, July 2010. He co-authored, TRIBAL COURT PEACEMAKING A Model for the Michigan State Court System? Michigan Bar Journal, June 2015.
In 2016, Judge Connors was the recipient of the Reverend Thomas H. Smith Humanitarian Service Award from the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2015, Judge Connors received the Hilda Gage Judicial Excellence Award from the Michigan Judges Association. The award “honors judges who serve their profession and their communities with integrity, skill, and courage every day.” Judge Connors is a three-time recipient of the Justice Blair Moody Award for Significant Contributions to Judicial Excellence. In 2014, Judge Connors was awarded the Child Welfare Jurist of the Year Award by the Foster Care Review Board. He also received the Peace Builder Award on behalf of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court from the Dispute Resolution Center. This award was given “in recognition of outstanding commitment to the practice of just and humane resolution of social conflict.” Further in 2014, dbusiness, Detroit’s Premier Business Journal recognized Judge Connors as one of the “top circuit court judges” in Southeast Michigan. This recognition was based on integrity, knowledge of the law, efficiency and judicial temperament. Judge Connors was awarded the Tecumseh Peacekeeping Award for Dedicated Service to Protecting the Rights of American Indians from the Michigan State Bar Indian Law Section. Judge Connors was presented with the Patriot Award for Outstanding Service to the Bench, the Bar, and the Community from the Washtenaw County Bar Association in 2009.
In 2014, Judge Connors was elected Chairman of the Board of Eversight, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the restoration of sight. Judge Connors is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Tribal Leadership Forum.
Judge Connors is incorporating Peacemaking principles, philosophies and procedures shared by Tribal communities into State Court justice systems. This effort is supported by the Michigan Supreme Court. Cases identified as potential beneficiaries of Peacemaking are those where the litigants have ongoing relationships after the court’s adjudication is complete. In addition, cases where litigants need a more complete understanding of and closure to the conflict that brought them into court are also potential beneficiaries of Peacemaking. To date, successful outcomes of Peacemaking efforts have been witnessed in wrongful death suits, elder guardianship disputes, estate distribution issues, custody and parenting time disputes and neglect and abuse proceedings.
6 year term expires January, 2019
Judge Carol Kuhnke was elected by the voters of Washtenaw County in 2012 and took the bench on January 1, 2013. She holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and history of art from the University of Michigan, and a juris doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law. She is currently the Chief Judge Pro Tem of the Trial Court and presiding judge of the Domestic Division of the Trial Court.
As an attorney in private practice, she worked in large and small firms before founding the law firm of Davis & Kuhnke, PC in 1997. She worked in civil litigation for a total of 19 years before becoming a judge.
Judge Kuhnke has been active in numerous legal and community organizations. She belongs to the Michigan Association for Justice, the Women Lawyers Association, Washtenaw Association for Justice, American Constitution Society, and NAACP Ann Arbor branch. Before taking the bench, Judge Kuhnke served on the Washtenaw County Board of Election Canvassers. She served 13 years on the Zoning Board of Appeals for the City of Ann Arbor, six years as the chair, and upon taking the bench she was proclaimed Retired Emeritus Chair by Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.
Judge Kuhnke currently hears civil, criminal and parental waiver cases.
6 year term expires January, 2019
Judge Darlene A. O’Brien was appointed Washtenaw County Probate Judge in 2006 and won election later that year. She earned her bachelors degree summa cum laude from University of Toledo in 1977, and graduated in 1980 from Notre Dame Law School. Following a federal judicial clerkship, O’Brien began private practice in Michigan in 1981. She had an active trial practice for 24 years, representing clients in criminal and civil matters including those heard in probate and family court. She was admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, E.D. Mich., as well as the U. S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
O’Brien also taught trial practice for Institute of Continuing Legal Education, including its Deposition Skills seminars and authored the “Pleading” chapter in the Michigan Causes of Action treatise for ICLE. She has civil court mediator training and served as a case evaluator for the 15th District Court. In 2005, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan, Washtenaw Chapter presented O’Brien with the Mary E. Foster award for her leadership and contributions to women and in 2007 was presented the Bernard J. O’Connor award by the Dispute Resolution Center for the just and humane resolution of human disputes. Cooley Law School recognized her in 2012, as Integrity in the Community Honoree.
Judge O’Brien belongs to the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, Washtenaw County Bar Association, the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy and Women Lawyers Association of Michigan. She has served on the board of the Center for Occupational and Personalized Education from 1994-2009, including terms as president, vice-president, secretary and executive committee member. She has also been active on the board of Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone teen center from 2004-2010.
Judge O'Brien served on the Probate Council for the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan from 2009-2013 and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Probate Judges Association since 2011. Her docket includes criminal and domestic relations cases.
Term expires January, 2021
Judge Julia B. Owdziej was appointed Probate Judge on June 2, 2014
and was elected by the Washtenaw County voters in November 2014.
Judge Owdziej currently hears the entire Probate docket and juvenile delinquency matters.
6 year term expires January, 2021
Judge David S. Swartz is currently the Chief Judge of the Trial Court as well as Presiding Judge of the Civil/Criminal Division.
Judge Swartz was appointed to the 14A District Court Bench by Governor Engler in January of 1995, and was then appointed to the Circuit Court in April, 1997.
Born in Ann Arbor, Judge Swartz earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University in 1969, and a Juris Doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University Law School in 1972.
Prior to coming to the bench, the Judge's career was entirely devoted to litigation. Judge Swartz served as an Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor from 1973 to 1982. Thereafter, he spent the next thirteen years as a civil litigator in private practice.
In addition to the State Bar of Michigan, where he served as a member of the Representative Assembly, Judge Swartz is a past president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association and a Life Fellow of the State Bar Foundation.