Monday Profile: Thomas English


Thomas English retired from federal civilian service as an assistant U.S. attorney and U.S. administrative law judge. During his 30-year career, he served as a state police officer and homicide investigator. 

He decided that he too, could become an attorney and put himself through law school. After briefly working in a large law firm, he was recruited to the U.S. Department of Justice as an Assistant U.S. Attorney where he rose to the Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, participating in the largest trials in the state’s history including death penalty litigation. 

After 12 years of prosecuting the worst of the worst, English was confirmed as a state cabinet secretary overseeing the New Mexico State Police. He finished his federal civilian service hearing and deciding thousands of disability and retirement cases for the Social Security Administration. He also travelled to offices nationwide to lead judges or teach judges in technology.

Judge English also had a successful military career, rising from private to the rank of colonel and serving General David Petraeus in Afghanistan. In that role, he oversaw legal processing of all war on terror detainees held in Afghanistan.  This involved restarting the Afghan legal system and navigating intense international scrutiny. He also served in Bosnia overseeing U.S. military compensation to victims of military actions and investigating international arms smuggling. He finished his military career retiring from the Michigan Army National Guard as the state judge advocate.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

Residence: Williamston.

Favorite local hangouts: Ellie’s Dinner, Sun Theater, Mitchell’s.

Favorite websites: Google, eBay, Amazon.

What is your most treasured material possession? A Russian (pre-revolutionary) carpet ball passed down through my family.

What was always written on your grade school report card? “Tom is very friendly and thinks he is funny!”

What is your happiest childhood memory?
Being with my Mom after all my brothers went to school or when my Dad took me alone to get a new baseball mitt.

When you were considering law school, what was Plan B? Keep serving as a state police officer.

What would surprise people about your job?
My last job as a Judge is what actually makes people credible in my eyes. As a prosecutor, how much I cared about everyone including the defendants.  As a senior military leader, how much I cared about my people’s families at home.

What do you wish someone would invent? An exercise machine that doesn’t require actual exercise. (I was always forced to run for work.)

What has been your favorite year so far? 2007 when I met and married my wife April and made the best friends in the world.

Do you prefer email, text, or a phone call? E-mail.

When you look back into the past, what do you miss most?
I miss being outdoors and driving around. I miss talking to my mom everyday or sitting in front of my dad’s desk getting advice.

What is your most typical mood?
Happy and looking for adventure.

Who is on your guest list for the ideal dinner party? Harry Truman.

What question do you most often ask yourself? What more can I do to help?

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would that be? A kid in college.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been?

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer? Being confirmed by the state Senate and having my mom sitting with the lieutenant governor on the floor.

What word do you overuse? I shouldn’t say it out loud or in print.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do? Fly an airplane.

What is something most people don't know about you?
I won many awards for flower arranging. 

What is the best advice you ever received?
Don’t talk so much.