Judge Kwan was appointed to serve as the first Justice Court Judge for the City of Taylorsville in May 1998. He is the first Chinese-American to be appointed to the judiciary in Utah. He implemented a formal substance abuse program for misdemeanor offenders, one of the first in the nation. The Taylorsville Justice Court was also the first Utah court to offer an adult victim-offender mediation program. It operated a peer court run by Taylorsville students who heard and resolved offenses committed by minors. In recognition of these achievements, Michael was honored by the Utah Minority Bar Association in 1999. He began a Domestic Violence program in 2000 for which he received the 2002 Peace on Earth Award.
In 2000, Judge Kwan was elected to the Board of Justice Court Judges. In 2001, he was received the “Quality of Justice” award from the Utah Judicial Council for exemplary performance of his duties with the highest commitment to improving the quality of justice in Utah. He is an adjunct professor for the Salt Lake Community College and also teaches for the Utah Courts, American Bar Association and National Drug Court Institute. Judge Kwan was appointed to the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse and the Traffic Court Committee of the American Bar Association. He was elected to serve on Utah’s Judicial Council, the administrative body which oversees all Utah courts.
In 2003, Governor Leavitt recognized Judge Kwan’s efforts to bridge communities by awarding him the Unity through Diversity award. Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. awarded Judge Kwan the 2007 Governor’s Award for his pioneering efforts to reduce substance abuse and reduce crime through his substance abuse program.
In the community, Judge Kwan has been active in advancing social justice and civil rights. He founded the Utah chapter of OCA, an Asian Pacific American civil rights organization. During his years of service, he has held the positions of UOCA Chair, OCA National Board of Director, OCA National Secretary and OCA Executive Vice President. He also founded the Multi-Cultural Legal Center and served on the Board of Trustees and as Board Chair of the Asian Association of Utah, a non-profit, social service agency for the refugee, Asian and Pacific Islanders populations.