Judge Joseph Thomas Flies-Away formerly served as Chief Judge of the Hualapai Tribal Court, and he currently serves as pro tem judge for several tribal courts in the Southwest. In addition, Mr. Flies-Away works as a Community Nation Building Consultant in Phoenix, Arizona.
Judge Flies Away describes himself as a community and nation-building consultant/ facilitator. As a consultant, Flies-Away facilitates tribal community & nation-building projects in planning, evaluation, technical assistance, research, and training. Focusing on developing justice systems, including Healing to Wellness Courts, Flies-Away is interested in how courts and other governmental institutions contribute to effective governance and ‘living together well’. Flies-Away’s experience includes serving as a Hualapai Tribal Council Member, Director of the Tribe’s Department of Planning & Community Vision, promoter and Chairman of the Board of the tribal corporation, HBE, Inc., and Chief Judge and Associate Judge of the Hualapai Tribal Court (trial court) and Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Hualapai Court of Appeals. Judge Flies-Away has also taught students from Junior High to University, including Lecturer in Law at Stanford University School of Law, Adjunct Faculty at Arizona Summit Law School, and in Native American Studies in the Stanford School of Humanities & Sciences, Arizona State, and a UCLA course called Working in Indian Country. Judge Flies-Away holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and is a graduate of Stanford University in English Literature.
In his first term as Chief Judge, Flies-Away helped to plan, implement, then preside over the Hualapai Wellness Court, which later became a Mentor Court. It was one of the first wellness courts to offer both an adult and juvenile docket. On his own and as a consultant for the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) Flies-Away assisted tribes and Alaskan villages to plan, develop, and refine Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts. Working with TLPI, Judge Flies-Away helped produce the Overview to Healing to Wellness Courts; Healing to Wellness Courts: The 10 key Components; and Healing to Wellness Court Judicial Bench Book. In his own writing, Judge Flies-Away describes Wellness Courts as Therapeutic Jurisprudence +: the “Plus” being a spiritual element added to the psychological and emotional aspects of justice. Spiritual in this context connotes how individuals and groups feel connected, linked, and tied together, a bonding that strengthens the spirit and soul (or in the contrary that which disconnects). Flies-Away believes that many addicts seek and rely on substances to help them feel connected and apart. Healing to Wellness Courts, for Flies-Away, provides a format for participants to find alternate ways to feel connected, related, empowered, and restored.