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Daniel J. Smith Lawyer Profile

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ENGLISH

Employment History

Staff Attorney
February 1986 - June 2012 Prairie State Legal Services, Inc.
I have represented hundreds of clients at Illinois trials from central Illinois to Galena. One of my first cases in Peoria went to the United States Supreme Court, although by then our client was working and no longer eligible for legal services. I referred his case to a fledgling civil liberties organization called the Rutherford Institute. He won his case unanimously at the United States Supreme Court, establishing that a person’s exercise of religious freedom does not need to be tethered to the tenets of a specific church which he attends. http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/489/829.html Over the years, I developed litigation expertise in family law and housing law cases and administrative law experience especially in numerous Social Security cases. One client I represented was a young mother from the Philippines whose husband had abducted their baby girl, taking her from the mother’s arms at a U.S. military base in Japan to our area where he left the baby with his parents and filed for divorce here. After I obtained affidavits from the mother’s relatives in the Philippines, the father agreed to return the child to the mother in Japan. She later won custody of the baby there. In another case, I represented a domestic abuse victim whose husband abducted their young children to Arizona. I obtained a custody order for the mother and was able to get the federal and state authorities to return the children to Illinois. The abusive husband returned to Illinois and subsequently was convicted of murdering a run-away teenager here. He was extradited from Costa Rica after he fled from Illinois a second time. I also co-chaired the Prairie State Legal Services Housing Task Force and lectured at several landlord-tenant law seminars including Lorman Educational Services seminars.
Staff Attorney
February 1982 - January 1985 Legal Services of Indiana, Inc.
In Indiana I co-chaired the family law task force of the Legal Services Organization of Indiana, which has since become Legal Services of Indiana. My best memories are of helping parents get their children back. One in particular was a Hispanic mother from Florida who had not seen her 10 year old son for years since his father abducted him. The father filed for divorce in Indiana and then skipped out when I entered my appearance on behalf of the mother. I obtained a default judgment and custody order for the mother and on the same day took her to her son’s last known school where we found that he had transferred to Indianapolis, forty miles away. Before school was out that day, mother and son were united as the boy, in the principal’s office, happily exclaimed, “That’s my Mom!” I drove the mother and son to the airport so they could fly back home to Florida that evening.
Executive Director
May 1980 - May 1980 Notre Dame Legal Aid and Defender Association
I transferred to Notre Dame Law School for the second and third year of law school. There I joined the Notre Dame Legal Aid and Defender Association of which I was elected Executive Director for my third year of law school. At that time, the Notre Dame Legal and Defender Association was a law student run program with students providing legal assistance in criminal and civil cases in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. Between my second and third year of law school, I drafted a federal grant proposal which helped Notre Dame expand its clinical legal education program under the leadership of Dean David Link, then the longest tenured dean of a United States law school, who subsequently went on to be president of the University of Notre Dame in Australia, and afterwards became a Catholic priest serving maximum security inmates following his wife’s death. With Dean Link’s authority, in my third year of law school, we students initiated over the winter break the first Group Alternative Live-In Legal Education Experience (GALILEE, a name coined by a fellow law student (now Judge) Joe Cosgrove, who had been the Notre Dame leprechaun as an undergraduate student). That first year, students met with attorneys and religious persons working for justice among the poor. The program continues. http://law.nd.edu/academics/clinics-and-experiential-learning/immersion-courses/galilee/
Legal Intern
August 1978 - June 1979 Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Inc.
I drove a carload of undergraduate students from the University of Illinois to Appalachia the first week of summer vacation for a one week mission trip. There I learned of an enterprising and dynamic legal services organization called Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky. APPALRED hired me as a legal intern in its Barbourville office where I worked alongside young graduates from Harvard, Virginia, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Boston College law schools. I found the work exciting, the conditions of the poor challenging, and the people there welcoming. By the end of my one year internship, I had put together for APPALRED its first litigation bank of pleadings and memos in court cases. My best memories are of interviewing witnesses and drafting affidavits to support the claim of a widow for the newly passed federal Black Lung benefits program. We proved that her husband, who had died in a mining accident fifteen years earlier, had in fact worked in the mines 25 years (back to the Depression when he left school after 8th grade). One coworker of his described, somewhat in jest, the conditions in the mines: “You could put your finger in the air and pull it back, leaving a black hole there.” More seriously, I saw firsthand, the suffering of the miners.

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Notre Dame Law School

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