Anjana Hansen is a candidate for judge in the 9th judicial sub circuit, which includes Evanston. The election is March 14, 2014.
Ms. Hansen served 13 years at the State’s Attorney’s office, during which time she said she spent “90 to 95 percent of my time on criminal prosecution” but also served in the appellate and the juvenile divisions. She says in her years at the State’s Attorney’s office she handled approximately 25 civil bench trials, more than 100 misdemeanor bench trials and more than 200 felony trials – both bench and jury. She has also handled approximately 40 appeals, a handful of which were argued in front of the Illinois
Now with her own private law practice in Evanston, Ms. Hansen also serves as an administrative law judge (ALJ) for the City of Evanston.
Diversity is one of the things that drew her to run for judge, Ms. Hansen told the RoundTable. An Asian American of immigrant parents, she says, “The most obvious is [a need for] diversity on the bench. Cook County and the 9th sub circuit are diverse, and I feel the judiciary should reflect that.”
A second reason she gave for her candidacy is her courtroom experience and her feeling for the courtroom and how plaintiffs and defendants should be treated. A “huge part of being a judge,” Ms. Hansen says, is demeanor. People can be uncomfortable in a courtroom because they are unfamiliar with court procedures – and sometimes even with the language. “I would like to be able to be the judge who has control of the courtroom and makes people feel comfortable and lets them know they are going to be heard,” Ms. Hansen says. “A lot of people just want to be heard – they want to tell their story.” She says as a judge she would listen and give everyone the opportunity to speak and be heard. From her experience in the courtroom – as prosecutor, defense attorney and ALJ – she says she believes that giving a person the opportunity to speak and be heard “may make the fine – or even a guilty verdict – a little more palatable.”
A third reason, she says, is, “I feel at home in a courtroom.”
As an alderman, a prosecutor and now an attorney in private practice, Ms. Hansen sees a trial as more than just winning or losing. “It’s about how to make the community better. … In a criminal case [something has been done] that affects the whole community. You are trying to rectify that – to make the community whole again.”
That same mission informed her term as alderman, she said. “As an alderman I found that some of the most important things were things that affected my constituents on a day-to-day level – garbage collection, street repairs and the like.”
Ms. Hansen serves on the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Committee, which makes grants of federal funds to programs benefitting low- and middle-income residents. She also remains chair of the annual Bike the Ridge event, which she and Eighth Ward alderman Ann Rainey co-founded nearly five years ago.
“I hold myself out as a member of the community,” Ms. Hansen says. “I was raised in Rogers Park; my husband is from Skokie,” and they are rearing three children in Evanston. Although she keeps her private life private, Ms. Hansen said that, at a recent Second Ward meeting, when she was introduced as a candidate for judge, she did divulge something about her parents-in-law and their ties to the Rogers Park/Evanston community. “They run the Fish Keg,” she said.
“When I said that, the residents in the room laughed and applauded. I thought maybe I shouldn’t say anything else,” Ms. Hansen said.
Evanston politicians are supporting Ms. Hansen. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, former Mayor Lorraine Morton and former State’s Attorney Dick Devine are the “honorary co-chairs” of her campaign, she says, although there is no official campaign committee. Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said, “I very much support Anjana. She has great experience and is very, very bright. I think she’ll be a great judge.”
Eighth Ward alderman Ann Rainey said, “I am absolutely supporting my friend and colleague Anjana Hansen for judge. I’m familiar with her work as an Assistant State’s Attorney, as alderman and currently hearing officer for the City of Evanston. Her experience, background and demeanor is perfectly matched to judicial service. She’s studious, thoughtful and thorough and I am looking forward to the day she’s seated as a judge in the Ninth Circuit.”
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she is also supporting Ms. Hansen. “I think she’ll make a fantastic judge. She listens well and she’s fair,” said Ald. Holmes.
Seventh Ward Alderman Jane Grover said she is supporting Ms. Hansen, as well as Tom Cushing and Jerry Esrig, who are running for election to the judicial subcircuit seats not in competition with Ms. Hansen. “ They each bring different perspectives and experiences to the bench, in addition to their legal qualifications. I’m not surprised that Evanston continues to produce solid candidates for service on the Cook County Circuit Courts,” Ald. Grover said.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, have added their support as well.
Ms. Hansen has been rated “highly qualified” by the Indo-American Bar Association and “qualified” by the Chicago Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Illinois, the Chicago Council of Lawyers and The Puerto Rican Bar Association. She has been “recommended” by the Cook County Bar Association, the Decalogue Society, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Hellenic Bar Association the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Greater Chicago and The Black Women Lawyers Association.
She faces two opponents in the March election, one from Lincolnwood and the other from Chicago.