Zac Shaffer

Member since: Monday, 16 January 2017
Last Visit: Never
First Name
Last Name
Campaign Cycle
Common Pleas
Sitting Judge
Email Address
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Ballot Position
Button #
Bar Association Rating
Democratic City Committee, 5th Ward, 8th Ward, 9th Ward, 27th Ward
Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Philadelphia Building Trades, AFCSME DC 47, AFSCME DC33, AFCME District 1199C, International Association of Firefighters Local 22, Steamfitters Local 420, Sheetmetal Workers Local 19
Progressive Groups
Guardian Civic League, Liberty City LGBT Democrats, Millennials in Action, National Organization of Women (NOW), Philly LEAD
Public Officials
Sheriff Jewell Williams
News Papers
Philadelphia Gay News, Philadelphia Tribune
What has been the general nature of your practice?
Criminal justice. I started as a law clerk defending my judge's decisions in draft opinions and then went on to private practice. In private practice I worked at a firm focusing on union representation and then started my own boutique practice specializing in criminal defense at both state and federal levels. At my firm we do a lot of pro bono work through expungement clinics.
Why do you consider yourself qualified to be judge?
I have handled close to two-thousand cases from start to finish. The vast majority were serious felonies. Many of these were jury trials. Some of them were appeals where the court made an error costing our client their freedom. In one case I was granted a brand new trial for a young man serving 30 years for attempted murder. At the new trial he was found not guilty of all the charges associated with the attempted murder and walked out of the courthouse. He probably would not have been found guilty if the previous judge had not made a serious error in granting a motion to help the prosecution, which led to his incarceration.
What is it about our criminal justice system that inspires you?
Reuniting families, whether it is through someone who is finally receiving rehabilitation or an innocently charged individual who walks out of the courthouse free!
What about our current criminal justice system do you believe needs to be reformed?
We need to change our reentry programs so that they are more effective. Philadelphia has a 60% rate of people coming home from prison being arrested within 3 years of their release. The rest of the state is 40%. Without judges taking the time to focus on reentry and rehabilitation we will continue to have a staggering rate of poverty and incarceration which just continues the cycle of despair indefinitely.
As a judge, what would your sentencing philosophy be?
What made this person commit the crime? What resources do we need to give this person so that they will not commit another crime? What resources are they lacking to lead a full life? Are their children, if any, getting all the resources they need? Rehabilitation over retribution.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night thinking about a case and wishing you had handled something differently? If so, please describe one situation.
I never doubt my decisions in a case after they have been made. Good trial attorneys have to be flexible for their own mistakes and flexible to pounce on those of their opponents. I do often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about different ideas for cases.
Who are your role models and why?
My grandfather. He fought in world war two and was captured. During an artillery shelling he escaped and got back over to allied lines. After the war he went to law school with several future US Supreme Court Justices and became one of the youngest lawyers to ever argue in front of the Supreme Court. When he saw an injustice he fought against it with all of his might and often volunteered his time through pro bono work. His case in front of the Supreme Court was one of the first cases involving free agency which eventually became a reality. He died many years ago but his zealous advocacy and compassion for the indigent is something that inspires me.
What is your favorite book, movie, or tv show of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
Song of Ice and Fire. Philadelphia politics set in Westeros, Essos, and Sothoryos.
Name a song that you were obsessed with as a teenager.
Requiem- Gabriel Faure
What is you favorite number?
NewsNo Result