My first job after college was with the Task Force on Family Violence in Milwaukee, a non-profit organization that provides services to victims of domestic violence. I listened to the victims’ intimate, gut-wrenching stories and helped walk them through the legal process. At the hearings, I would sit with them and their families to provide moral support. During that process, I would observe the judges, and I quickly recognized how important they were, not only to the legal system but also to the individuals that appeared before them. Their decisions could help break the cycle of violence for both the victim and the perpetrator.
On top of that, the judge’s willingness to listen and understand the situation of the person appearing before them was instrumental to the victim’s belief that the court system—and, ultimately, justice—was accessible. These experiences confirmed that I wanted to go to law school and, one day, sit as a judge. I wanted to hear those cases, bear that responsibility, and make the right decisions.
Today, I have that distinct honor as a McHenry County Circuit Court Judge in the Family Division after being unanimously appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court. I have the opportunity to serve our community, both on and off the bench, including our children, families, and seniors. I am now running to retain my judgeship, and I hope to earn your support.
Looking back, it’s not surprising that my experience with the Task Force on Family Violence resonated with me or that I carry it with me to the bench. I strive to always do the right thing because my parents raised me to always act with integrity. I saw how they saved a cousin and her mother from an abusive home through great personal expense. They showed me through their actions that doing the right thing is rarely convenient, easy, or cheap, but when you know it’s the right thing to do, you do it.
That’s why I seek out opportunities to actively improve our community—for the sake of our families, our children, and our seniors. As a father raising his family in our community, I want to see our community and court system improved for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. I serve in leadership roles with organizations that provide mentors for children and assistance and independence for the elderly. I teach about civics and our judiciary to elementary, middle, and high school students. Whether it’s these activities or something as simple and fun as coaching summer league baseball, I take seriously my responsibility and my opportunity to help make our community a better place.
My dedication to the betterment of our community is directly related to my role as a circuit judge. As a public official, I am responsible for being present and part of the community I serve. Not surprisingly, my community involvement makes me a better judge. It helps ensure I understand the people who appear before me, along with how my decisions impact their lives. Those who appear before me are people to me, not just words on a page, and I treat each of them with empathy, respect, and compassion. In my courtroom, I apply the law fairly and justly in every case and for each person. I thoroughly research cases, carefully consider evidence, and diligently seek answers to ensure the right result. I ensure that all parties, including unrepresented parties, have their “day in court.”
I am passionate about our judicial system and our community and want to see them improved for everyone, especially the most vulnerable citizens in McHenry County. As an attorney with a wide variety of experience, and as one of the younger judges in McHenry County, I have experience and perspective that is invaluable to our court system. I am working to help improve access to justice and the use of technology in our courtrooms. We must improve as the number of people who participate in our court system grows and changes, especially with many unable to afford representation and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. I spearheaded efforts to improve virtual court appearances and bring videoconference hearings to McHenry County. I also helped lead efforts to start an attorney help desk with the local bar association to help the public get answers and assistance. These and other efforts ensure the justice system continues to operate and improve safely. Our community depends upon it.
As a husband and father, as a community member, and as a judge, the responsibility of doing my job as well as possible weighs heavily on my mind, especially in family court. Every day, I see the impact that my decisions can have on a person’s life—especially the most vulnerable members of our community. This is not a position for activists looking to advance an issue or political agenda. We entrust our judges to uphold the law, and we rightfully expect our judges and judicial candidates to be ethical, have a record of integrity, and show a commitment to service. I have lived out those qualities on the bench and in our community, and I hope to have your vote so I can continue to do so as a McHenry County Circuit Court Judge.
Judge Justin Hansen
McHenry County Circuit Court Judge
22nd Judicial Circuit, Third Subcircuit