Frequently Asked Questions
Q.Don’t you need to be a judge before you can join the Supreme Court?
No. And, in fact, less than 2/3rds of Supreme Court justices (US and IL) were judges before joining the Supreme Court. Great liberal justices like Earl Warren and Louis Brandeis were never judges prior to serving on the Supreme Court. And Elena Kagan and Thomas Kilbride serve right now and they weren’t judges prior to joining the Court.
This is actually pretty common.
Q.Does Daniel have enough trial experience?
The Illinois Supreme Court doesn’t do trials, they review trials. And that’s experience that Daniel has a lot of.
Or think about it like this: The Illinois Supreme Court doesn’t do biometrics, surgery, or policing; but it reviews cases in which those things are at issue all the time. None of the justices are biometricians, surgeons, or detectives, but they use their wits to render judgment on those things. Lots of narrow experience is fine, but if we say that all seven Supreme Court justices need decades of trial experience, we’re going to narrow our pool so much that we sacrifice top talent and bias our process toward maintaining the status quo.
Additionally, trials represent only a very small share of modern legal practice. Things like investigations, pleadings, discovery (and in recent years, e-discovery), pre-trial, settlements, and appeals make up a much larger portion of real legal practice. Daniel has lots of experience in those areas and has even published influential works on some of them. And with respect to e-discovery--which makes up a huge portion of modern complex litigation--Daniel would be the only justice on the bench with substantial experience.
Most importantly, though, Daniel is laser focused on reforming rules of procedure, evidence, and ethics. He is on record saying exactly what reforms he wants to make. Judge Daniel on those proposals. If you think he’s missing something, so be it. But you don’t have to guess whether he knows what he’s doing, he put all his cards on the table. Can you say that about the other candidates?
Q.Isn’t Daniel too young?
No. Daniel will be 35 when he joins the Court (old enough to be president of the United States). That will make Daniel the youngest justice in 101 years--since the Court welcomed 31 year old justice Floyd Thompson (who came from the same law firm as Daniel). Interestingly, though, if this were Illinois’ first Supreme Court, Daniel would be the oldest justice on the bench. Our Court used to be very young, but that’s changed over time, and now Illinois’ youngest Supreme Court justice is 66.
But here’s the bottom line: the way we’re doing justice in Illinois isn’t working. Our courts are vulnerable to corruption and bias. If we only select judges who have been a part of the system for decades, we’re going to get more of the same. We need something different. We need an outsider. Someone exceptional with a plan to make reforms that serve the customers of the court, rather than the court itself. Daniel is that person.
Q.Has Daniel practiced law for long enough?
Yes. Daniel served clients in the Supreme Court of the United States, he can serve us in the Illinois Supreme Court. He has legal experience in cases in more than a dozen jurisdictions; and has experience with appeals, post-convictions, civil rights, domestic violence orders of protection, immigration, criminal defense, antitrust, securities, intellectual property, government contracts, internal investigations, multidistrict litigation, administrative law, torts, alternative dispute resolution, commercial real estate, corporate governance, employment, insurance, and professional responsibility. He worked at one of the top law firms in the world on the most complex cases in the world and attended one of the top law schools in the world. At every opportunity, Daniel performed with excellence and integrity. He’ll do the same for us on the Illinois Supreme Court.
Q.Does Daniel have enough experience?
Yes. But you don’t have to trust me on this, we can play this out. First, let’s assume Daniel is really as great as I think he is. If so, the upside potential for positive change is huge! Daniel is advocating for systemic reforms that will make our system less corrupt, more fair, and more convenient. We need that! Okay, now let’s assume Daniel is a schmuck and doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s important to remember that there are seven justices on Illinois’ Supreme Court and four need to agree with decisions for them to have an impact. That means that if he makes a bad decision in a case, it can only have an impact if three justices agree with that bad decision. All the justices on the Court have the decades of experience that you hold in high regard, so there is very little risk that a single schmuck can have a big impact for the worse. But a single visionary can make a huge impact for the better. Daniel is that visionary.
Q.Why doesn’t Daniel run for a lower court first?
Daniel is running to reform our courts’ rules of procedure, evidence, and ethics. The Illinois Supreme Court is the only body that can do that. Not the circuit court, not the appellate court, not the governor, not the legislature. Only the Illinois Supreme Court can make the changes for which Daniel is advocating.
And there is no time to waste. Our courts are getting compensated when they convict people now. Our courts are vulnerable to judicial corruption now. People are being wrongfully convicted now. These are major problems that we can’t wait decades to fix. The time for change is now.
There is one more reason, which is that time spent as part of a bureaucracy changes people. People grow used to the way things are. We need someone who isn’t used to it. Who won’t accept the status quo. Daniel is that person and the time is now.
Q.Why do we have to elect Daniel to make these reforms?
Daniel is the only one talking about reform. He’s the only progressive in the race. That’s just the reality. If you want progressive systemic reform, he’s the only option.
Q.Even if we elect Daniel, won’t he have to get other justices to agree with his reforms for them to take effect?
Four of seven justices need to agree in order to change a rule. Daniel’s proposals are mostly common sense solutions or solutions that have already been implemented in other jurisdictions. There’s good reason to think that three justices would agree with Daniel’s proposals. We just need a friend on the Court with a fresh perspective and the drive to make change.
Q.Wouldn’t ending cash bail make us less safe?
No. It’s exactly the opposite. Cash bail makes us less safe.
Judges sometimes base bail amount on the seriousness of allegations; the more egregious the alleged crime, the higher the bail. That might seem sensible, but what it really does is create the potential for high-risk defendants to return to the community if they have the money. Defendants who pose an immediate danger to the community should not be able to return to the community simply because they can afford bail; conversely, defendants who are safe to return to the community should not linger in jail simply because they can't afford bail. Whether a defendant gets to return to the community should turn solely on whether they endanger the community. Inserting cash into the equation just confuses the issue. This is one of those rare instances where we can have our cake and eat it too. We can be safer, freer, and more humane by ending cash bail.
Q.Doesn’t Daniel’s proposed “sanctuary courts” condone illegal immigration?
Undocumented people have rights. They have the right to the wages they earn and to sue the people who steal them. They have a right to be safe from abuse and to sue the people who abuse them. Those are their rights under the law. Daniel’s proposal to allow people to appear in court remotely allows undocumented people to assert those rights. It’s not a matter of condoning, it’s a matter of establishing infrastructure that makes legal rights real. And, as a bonus, that same infrastructure would make courts more convenient and affordable for people with disabilities, people with caretaker responsibilities, people with jobs, and on and on and on.