Monday Profile: Judge Tom Boyd

Chief Judge Tom Boyd was born and raised in Kalamazoo. He graduated from James Madison College at Michigan State University in 1985 and Wayne State University Law School in 1990.  He was appointed assistant attorney general in 1995, and 55th District Court (Ingham County) judge in 2005. Boyd was elected to continue that service in 2006 and 2008, the same year the Michigan Supreme Court appointed him chief judge.

Boyd participated in the Michigan Supreme Court’s Pilot Project on Jury Reform in 2008 and was appointed to the Governor’s Indigent Defense Advisory Commission in 2011-12. He has served the Michigan District Judges Association as treasurer; co-chair of Program Committee; co-chair of the Legislative Committee and was recently elected MDJA secretary.  He has also served on the Supreme Court Learning Center Advisory Committee; the Michigan Judicial Institute’s District Court Academic Advisory Committee and as MJI faculty on several occasions.  

Boyd, who created the Fast Track for Domestic Violence to protect women and children and has recently begun a Mental Health Court, also serves as board chair of both the Mason Area Community, and the Oak Park YMCA. He is a volunteer for the Lansing Area Teen Court.  



 By Jo Mathis

Legal News
Residence:  Meridian Township.
Currently reading: “The First Phone Call from Heaven,” by Mitch Albom.
My mother always told me:  “Treat people the way you want to be treated.”  “The secret to happiness is modest expectations.”  “In order to find happiness with age you have to learn to accept loss and change.”  
What is your most treasured material possession?  A bicycle.
What advice do you have for someone considering law school?  Do whatever you can to make sure law school is the right decision.  Extern or volunteer in law related areas.  Law school is a great experience but the investment is sizable.  Take the time (even if it means a gap year) and have the experience(s) to increase your comfort that a career in law is right for you.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?  A tradesman.  Probably a plumber or electrician.  
Favorite local hangouts:  Oak Park YMCA, Lake Interstate
Favorite websites:,,, the Weather Channel, Google Maps (I know – not very cool.)
Your proudest moment(s) as a lawyer?  Every time someone stops into court to tell us he/she has been sober and away from the criminal justice system for months or years and thanks us for helping them find a better path.   
What is your happiest childhood memory?  Playing football - - with siblings or school friends, on organized teams with pads or pick-up games in the street.  You name it - - we played it.  
What would surprise people about your job?  We are tethered to our daily calendar.  I have less flexibility in my schedule than at any time since high school.  
What’s the most awe-inspiring place you have visited?  The Grand Canyon, followed closely by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
What’s your greatest achievement?  Raising two healthy children with my wife, Kim.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?  The ability to understand other people.  
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?  The human brain isn’t done growing until about age 21.  Regular consumption of alcohol damages the growing portion of the brain.  This damage increases the likelihood that you will have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol as an adult by 12-14% per year of pre-brain growth use.  
What one thing do you want people to know about your work?  That I work hard and always try to give each case the attention it deserves.  Lawyers work hard, too, and they deserve to be treated with respect.  This is a priority for me and the people I work with.  I hope this is what lawyers experience when interacting with my office.  
Favorite joke:  Two novice hot-air balloon operators were caught in an updraft on a cloudy day.  They lost their bearings in the clouds and did not know where they were.  When they were able to navigate their balloon down closer to the earth, they saw a man working in his garden.  They got close enough to yell down to him, “Where are we?”  The man yelled back, “You’re in a balloon.”  Just then, another updraft took the balloon back into the clouds.  The first man said to the second, “That man in the garden was obviously a lawyer.”  The second asked how he knew that.  He replied, “Think about it— his response was prompt, 100% accurate and we knew no more when he was done than when he started.”
Must-see TV:  “The Big Bang Theory.”
What’s your biggest regret?  I don’t have many regrets.  I’ve been very fortunate. (Lucky maybe a better word).  Years ago, I was offered a loan to travel to South Africa during the Apartheid era (1985).  A friend was there working with the Labor Party in the South African Parliament to end Apartheid.  I just couldn’t see borrowing money to travel.  If I could do it over again, I would have accepted the loan and gone.  
What’s one thing you would like to learn to do?  Speak another language.
What is something most people don't know about you?  I completed 6 sprint distance triathlons in 2013.
Can’t-live-without technology:  Smart phone.
Favorite law-related movie:  “Inherit the Wind” with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March, 1960.
What place won’t you return if you can help it?  A cruise ship in the Caribbean.  
Too much sun? Sea sickness? Pirates?  A privileged person’s tour of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere.  Not my kind of fun. It was my daughter’s senior year spring break.  I should have stayed home and let my wife chaperone.  Instead we all went and I kept an eye on our son – then 12.  He is an explorer.  We inspected every corner of that ship. 
What do you drive?  Chevy Cruze.
What would you drive if money were no object?  Cadillac.
Favorite place to spend money:  Any sporting goods store.
What is your motto?  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Where would you like to be when you're 90?  Above ground.


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