Lorri Montgomery
Director of Communications
National Center for State Courts


Michigan judge recipient of William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence

Williamsburg, Va., Sept. 4, 2018 – District Court Judge Elizabeth “Libby” Hines from Ann Arbor, Michigan has been named recipient of the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) 2018 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the highest judicial honors in the country.  While Judge Hines’ work is far-ranging, she is most recognized for her groundbreaking work in domestic violence.

Presented annually by the National Center for State Courts, the Rehnquist Award honors a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professional ethics, creativity, sound judgment, intellectual courage, and decisiveness. The award will be presented to Judge Hines by the Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court November 15. 

“Judge Hines holds the rare combination of qualities that everyone admires, but few possess,” said NCSC President Mary McQueen. “She’s diligent, prepared, loves challenges, takes on tough issues – and stays with them until she gets results. But it’s how she gets things done that makes Judge Hines so unique. She is kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and one of the humblest people you’ll ever meet. She’s a leader in the truest sense of the word.”  

Judge Hines’ work has shaped the way many courts handle domestic violence cases. In the early 2000s, she was appointed to represent her court on an executive committee that managed a Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, one of only three sites in the country selected to find what court practices work best in domestic violence cases. This was a five-year-project, and today Judge Hines’ court serves as a national resource for the handling of such cases. 

“Judge Hines has always been able to hold offenders accountable while maintaining strict adherence to due process and respectful treatment of defendants, and at the same time to ensure that victims have access to services and support,” said Liberty Aldrich, General Counsel and Director of Domestic Violence Programs at the Center for Court Innovation.   

The breadth of Judge Hines’ contributions to the justice system, however, are what make her stand out nationally, said several judges who wrote letters of support for Judge Hines’ nomination.  “Her quiet and patient example of getting the work done effected significant legal and culture change for a better judiciary,” Michigan Justice Bridget M. McCormack said, pointing to Judge Hines’ work to help the homeless resolve civil matters and non-violent misdemeanors in ways that work for them and society, to ensure quality court interpreters for court participants that have limited English proficiency, and to help reduce the burden that court fines and fees have on the economically disadvantaged. Judge Hines served on the National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices, a project of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators. 

Judge Hines was elected to Michigan’s 15th Judicial District Court bench in 1992. She currently serves as co-chair of the American Judges Association’s Domestic Violence Committee. She has served on the NCSC Board of Directors and was awarded the first Judicial Excellence Award by the Michigan District Judges Association. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School.  

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts. 


National Center for State Courts, 300 Newport Avenue, Williamsburg, VA  23185-4147