Daniel Shanes: Candidate Profile
19th Circuit, 3rd Subcircuit (Seat A) (Republican)
Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: 19th Circuit, 3rd Subcircuit (Seat A)
Family: Married 20 years, 4 children
Occupation: Circuit Court Judge
Education: B.A., University of Iowa, 1989 J.D., DePaul University College of Law, 1993; DePaul Law Review
Civic involvement: Over the years I have been active in a variety of organizations and groups; a representative sample includes the following: The Lake County Haven (Board of Directors; the Haven provides shelter, housing, and professional services for women and children to achieve permanent, independent living) Lake County Bar Assocation (Secretary, Board of Directors) Illinois Judges Assocation (Board of Directors) Illinois State Bar Assocation (Criminal Justice Section Council) Coach youth sports, including baseball and soccer Regular speaker at schools, parent associations, and civic and non-profit organizations on a variety of legal issues Received numerous awards and recognitions for accomplishments on behalf of the justice system and victims of crime in Lake County.
Elected offices held: Circuit Court Judge
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process? Please explain your answer.
The Illinois Constitution provides a system whereby roughly half of our judges are appointed and half are elected. In a nod toward democracy, many of our judges are elected; in a nod toward ?merit selection?, the other judges are appointed. I have now participated in several types of merit-based selection as well as the electoral process. Members of the Lake County Bar Association evaluate the judges and judicial candidates before whom they are to appear, considering characteristics such as integrity, legal ability, impartiality, temperament, and court management. After being found ?Highly Qualified? by the Lake County Bar Association (its highest rating at that time), in March 2007 I was selected to serve as an Associate Judge. In October 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court elevated me from Associate Judge to the position of Circuit Judge to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Raymond McKoski. As a result, I am now seeking election to a new, full term as a circuit judge to continue to serve the people of Lake County. In 2012, the Lake County Bar Association again conducted evaluations of judicial candidates and found me ?Highly Recommended? to serve as a Circuit Judge, its new highest rating. In addition, in a poll conducted by the bar association of its membership, over 95% responding recommended that I continue to serve as a Circuit Judge. The Illinois State Bar Association also conducts a poll of its membership, and also awarded me its highest rating, ?Recommended?. The ISBA poll asks members to evaluate judicial candidates based upon similar qualifications, including integrity, legal ability, and temperament. Both appointment of judges and election of judges have their place in our judicial system.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
There are many qualifications that together make a good judge, including experience, legal knowledge and ability, scholarship, temperament, and community support and activity. I have been privileged to serve our community as a judge for over the past five years, and am seeking election to remain in that position. During that time, I have presided over cases in every division of the courthouse, from criminal felony to traffic, civil to family?literally cases from speeding tickets to first degree murder. I am currently assigned to the felony trial division, presiding over some of the most serious cases in Lake County. At the same time, I serve as the supervising judge of the traffic/misdemeanor division where carry administrative responsibilities for the largest division of the courthouse. Members of the Lake County Bar Association evaluate the judges and judicial candidates before whom they are to appear, considering characteristics such as integrity, legal ability, impartiality, temperament, and court management. After being found ?Highly Qualified? by the Lake County Bar Association (its highest rating at that time), in March 2007 I was selected to serve as an Associate Judge. In October 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court elevated me from Associate Judge to the position of Circuit Judge to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Raymond McKoski. In 2012, the Lake County Bar Association again conducted evaluations of judicial candidates and found me ?Highly Recommended? to serve as a Circuit Judge, its new highest rating. In addition, in a poll conducted by the bar association of its membership, over 95% responding recommended that I continue to serve as a Circuit Judge. The Illinois State Bar Association also conducts a poll of its membership, and also awarded me its highest rating, ?Recommended?. The ISBA poll asks members to evaluate judicial candidates based upon similar qualifications, including integrity, legal ability, and temperament. The Illinois Supreme Court selected me to serve as the only judge from Lake County on the Court?s Committee on Education, providing judicial education and training to all Illinois judges. In that role I work to develop curriculum and serve as faculty at judicial education conferences for judges across Illinois. Closer to home, I have actively served our legal community in various capacities in the Lake County Bar Association for many years, including as Secretary of the Lake County Bar Association and separately on its Board of Directors. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Judges Association. For nearly 20 years, I have written scholarly legal articles on a variety of topics, and published dozens of such legal articles. Several of those articles have been cited by the Illinois Supreme Court, Illinois Appellate Court, and legal treatises. Prior to being appointed to the bench, I first served as a judicial law clerk to Justice Robert J. Steigmann of the Illinois Appellate Court. I then served as an Assistant State?s Attorney in Lake County for nearly 12 years. During that time, I prosecuted a variety of criminal cases, including child-sexual-predator, first-degree-murders, and public integrity cases. At the same time, I was a founding team member that created Lake County?s successful Drug Court. I am active in several local community organizations and groups, and proudly serve on the Board of Directors of the Lake County Haven, an agency that provides shelter, housing, and professional services for women and children to achieve permanent, independent living. I am proud to have received numerous awards and recognitions for accomplishments on behalf of the justice system and victims of crime in Lake County. I also enjoy regularly speaking at schools, parent associations, and civic and non-profit organizations on a variety of legal issues. I received a J.D. degree from DePaul University College of Law, where I served on the DePaul Law Review, and a B.A. degree from the University of Iowa. Raised in Lake County (the oldest of five sons), my wife and I continue to live in Lake County with our four children and dog.
What are your thoughts on mandatory sentencing? Do you believe judges should have greater leeway when it comes to sentencing defendants? Why or why not?
When a person is found guilty of a crime (either by trial or plea of guilty), it is the trial judge?s responsibility to ensure that an appropriate sentence is handed down based upon both the offense committed and the history, character, and condition of the offender. The parameters within which the trial judge does this are established by our democratically elected representatives in the General Assembly, and the judge exercises discretion within the law. When the General Assembly passes a law making something a crime, it also determines the range of possible sentences that applies to that crime. In court, the trial judge, based upon the particular facts and circumstances in each case, decides the appropriate sentence within the range provided by law. The trial judge?like everyone else?must follow the law, and unless a statute violates the Constitution, the law can only be changed by the General Assembly.
What are your thoughts on the use of drug courts, domestic violence courts, veterans courts, mental health courts and prostitution courts? Have they been effective?
Lake County was one of the first counties in Illinois to develop a specialized court for hard-core substance abusers repeatedly committing significant non-violent, property crimes, and I am proud to have been one of its founding team members. I also currently serve as one of the judges who presides in Drug Court. Lake County?s Drug Court is designed for people who have a history of committing low-level felony non-violent offenses that are driven by substance abuse or addiction. It is not a first-offender program. Instead, it is aimed at a person who typically has already served several short prison sentences for non-violent offenses (such as theft, forgery, or damage to property) and whose criminal conduct is driven by substance abuse. Rather than simply watch this person repeat the cycle of crime, incarceration, and release without addressing its underlying cause, Drug Court works to break that cycle through intensive treatment, monitoring, and supervision for several years. Drug Court has now proudly graduated dozens of people who live clean and sober lives and are productive members of our society. Lake County?s Drug Court serves to protect the public because it stops the pattern of offending. Over time, our Drug Court saves money we don?t have to spend on incarceration. And perhaps most importantly, Lake County?s Drug Court saves lives that otherwise would have been lost to substance abuse. Based upon the success of our Drug Court, Lake County now also runs a Therapeutic Intensive Monitoring Mental Health Court as well as a Veterans Court. The Mental Health Court is designed for individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system (typically with misdemeanor cases) because of untreated mental health issues. By addressing the underlying mental health issues and providing treatment for those issues, the Mental Health Court team restores the individual to being productive members of our society. Veterans Court is Lake County?s newest specialty courtroom. In the criminal courts, we are now seeing some men and women returning home from military service committing various offenses. Many of those individuals are suffering from a variety of issues (such as post traumatic stress disorder), and the criminal conduct is related to and driven by those underlying issues. Particularly for those individuals suffering from these conditions due to their service for our Nation, our Veterans Court is designed to help these individuals address those issues, enabling them to be healthy and productive members of society. Lake County is at the forefront of addressing the structure of the court system in new ways, and these programs have proven highly successful.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms? Why or why not?
This year, for the first time, the Illinois Supreme Court announced a pilot program by which a few selected circuit courts may allow cameras in the courtroom under certain circumstances; the Lake County circuit court has not yet received permission to participate in this program from the Supreme Court. As a Circuit Judge, I have been part of the process of developing a protocol for the use of cameras in Lake County courtrooms for approval by the Supreme Court.