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Honorable Michael Town


Judge Michael A. Town retired from the bench in 2010 after 30+ years of service as a trial judge-14 years as a Family Court Judge and 16 years as a Circuit Court Judge, including 3 years as Senior Judge of the Family Court. He presided over countless contested divorce and family cases involving complex issues of property division and custody. He also served as settlement judge for the divorce calendar as Lead Judge of the Domestic Division. As settlement judge he mediated and facilitated voluntary settlements for complex divorce cases. He has both been trainer and trainee in divorce mediation workshops over the years.

Judge Town served as an adjunct law professor at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law for 11 years teaching family law, juvenile law, environmental law and legal methods. He has published several articles in national judicial magazines and journals on “The Unified Family Court”, “Judge as Coach” and “Resilience and Compassion Fatigue in Judges”. He has presented workshops and seminars on these topics to judges nationally and internationally. This includes the federal judges of Aotearoa/New Zealand, United States Bankruptcy judges through the Federal Judicial Center, and state court judiciaries in a variety of states. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, Juris Doctor from Hastings College of the Law and Masters in Law from the Yale School of Law.

Judge Town served the Hawai`i Judiciary on the Restorative Justice Committee and the Committee on Jury Innovations among others. He is active in his community serving on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Hawai`i, Positive Coaching Alliance/Hawaii and Hawai`i Childrens’ Trust Fund. He served on several national boards including the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He was named a 2008 Sports Ethics Fellow of the Institute for International Sport and was given the 2010 Honolulu Forever Young award for community service. He served in the United States Peace Corps in Colombia, South America from 1962-64 as an athletic director and coach and is fluent in Spanish.

Judge Town is active in mediation, arbitration, public speaking on social justice issues to the bench and bar and general community.

Areas of Expertise

  1. Unified Family Court
  2. Restorative Justice
  3. Judge as Coach  
  4. Compassion Fatigue
  5. Bilingual in Spanish

Selected Presentations

Presentations made to:

  • Oregon appellate and trial judges
  • New Zealand Federal Judiciary   
  • University of Edinburgh Scotland
  • National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
  • Conference of Chief Justices
  • Pennsylvania Trial Judges  
  • National Court Appointed Special Advocates
  • California Judges
  • US Bankruptcy Judges
  • Hawaii Family Court Judges
  • Kentucky judges

Selected Articles

  • Town, Judge as Coach: Positive Coaching in the Courtroom, Juvenile and Family Justice TODAY Magazine, summer 2006, p. 30 (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges). Available by request.
  • Town, Coaches, Judges Have Much in Common, Honolulu Advertiser, May 1, 2006 (reprinted for Positive Coaching Alliance).
  • Town, Ten Suggestions To Keep Your Child Off Drugs and Out of Court. (reprinted in Honolulu Advertiser and available on request). See also Lee Cataluna article.
  • Town, Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma in Court: A Judge’s Perspective, Fatality Review Bulletin: reprinted in Florida Bar News (June 1, 2004). Available at: (http://www.floridabar.org).
  • Jaffe, Town, et. al. Vicarious Trauma in Judges: The Personal Challenge of Dispensing Justice, 54 Juvenile and Family Court Journal No. 4 pp 1-9 (Fall 2003, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges). Reprinted in The Judges’ Journal, (Vol. 45 No. 4 pp. 12-18, Fall 2006) (published by the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association),
  • Town, The Unified Family Court: Preventive, Therapeutic and Restorative Justice for America’s Families and Children. (Spring, 2001) National Center for Preventive Law (California Western School of Law). Reprinted in ABA Child Law Practice 99 (September 2002) and Juvenile and Family Justice Today (NCJFCJ Winter 2002). 
  • Town, Island Voices: Restorative Justice Helps the Victim Become Whole Again, (Honolulu Advertiser, May 3, 2000)
  • Town, Are Domestic Violence Death Reviews Consistent with Concepts of Preventive, Therapeutic and Restorative Justice? Fatality Review Bulletin (National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative, Summer 2002, available at (www.ndvfri.org) (please click on publications and scroll down)
  • Town, Domestic Violence Fatality Reviews and the Unified Family Court, 1 Unified Family Court Chronicle 1, (Spring 1999). (Available on request)
  • Websdale, Town and Johnson, Domestic Violence Fatality Reviews: From A Culture Of Blame To A Culture of Safety, 50 JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT JOURNAL 61 (SPRING, 1999) Available at (www.ndvfri.org) (please click on publications and scroll down) 
  • Town, Court As Convener and Provider of Therapeutic Justice, 67 UNIV. PUERTO RICO LAW REVIEW 671(1998) (available in English and Spanish on request) 
  • Town and Yuen, Public Access to Beaches in Hawai’i; A Social Necessity, 10 HAW. BAR JOURNAL 1 (1973)
  • Town,  “Modern Pilgrims Follow Ancient Path”, special to Star-Advertiser, December 19, 2010

Honors and Awards

  • 2008 Sports Ethics Fellow for Institute for International Sport (one of 18 fellows). 
  • 2010 Honolulu Forever Young honoree (one of 7 selected for community service)

Michael Town
Judge (Ret.)
Judge Michael A. Town is a career-long proponent of judicial well-being and supporter of problem-solving courts embracing therapeutic and restorative justice.

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“Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.”

Judge James Edward Horton

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