By Tara Cavanaugh
As he stood in Mrs. Jill Castillo’s sixth grade classroom, Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Tim Connors looked stately, his long black robes brushing the floor.
“Some think you wear this robe because it makes you important,” Judge Connors said. “Or it makes you powerful. Or that we need courts because some people do bad things and it’s the hammer.
“Let me share with you: I think it’s a lot more than that.”
Judge Connors visited Mrs. Castillo’s advisory class for Forsythe Middle School’s Career Awareness Day. The event, which takes place twice a year, brings working professionals into sixth grade advisory classes.
“It helps kids start thinking about the bigger picture,” said Amanda Hollis, a guidance counselor at the school. Other classrooms were visited by a vet, a lawyer, a biologist, a photographer and a social worker.
With the help of a few students as an example, Judge Connors helped the class understand the purpose of the courts.
“When disputes come, when people’s feelings are hurt, when people misbehave or when people make choices about hurting others, there’s a place that they can come,” he explained. “It’s safe, it’s fair, and everybody hears about it.”
And even though he spends his workday being called “Your Honor,” Judge Connors demystified the prestige of the robe.
“I am not more powerful than any of you,” he said. “I have a job…Your parents have elected me for this job…. When I wear this robe, I wear the power of your parents and your parents’ choice to have me be in that place.”
Judge Connors finished up by taking students’ questions –– ranging from his longest case to his silliest case –– and making a request.
He invited the class to attend his swearing-in ceremony in January. He was re-elected last week.
“I’d love for this class to be part of this process,” Judge Connors said. “When I was in sixth grade, I decided to become a lawyer. I wanted to help people. Some of you want to be lawyers, some of you might become judges. I will help you through your career, as long as you want to help people.”
Judge Connors is also an associate professor of law at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, where he earned his B.A. and J.D., respectively. (According to his re-election website, he played football for U-M.)
Connors is a proud product of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. A Huron High School graduate, he’s even on the River Rat Hall of Fame. “I love the teachers, I love this community,” he said after the class finished. “For me, this is part of the cycle. Everything that I’ve learned, I’m sharing.”
Judge Connors is also working with Huron Principal Arthur Williams to bring a court session to the students, an event which will be covered by the AAPS News. Stay tuned.
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