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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Cook County Circuit Court (Stewart vacancy)
Family: Long-term relationship, eldest of four sisters, six nieces, two nephews, mother to two adopted dogs, Winston and Paco.
Occupation: Attorney. Owner, Baumann & Shuldiner, a civil litigation practice. State and federal courts, at both trial and appellate levels. Practice includes personal injury, civil rights, and employment discrimination. Lead counsel in Burr Oak Cemetery litigation.
Education: Lane Technical High School, 1985 Bachelor of Science in Political Science, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 1989 Juris Doctor, University of Illinois, College of Law, 1992
Civic involvement: Currently serving on the Decalogue Society, Board of Managers, the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Assembly for Cook County, and as Co-Chair for the Women's Bar Association Diversity and Joint Programming Committees. Previously served on the ISBA Standing Committee on Professional Conduct, as former President of the North Suburban Bar Association, as Co-Chair for Judicial Evaluations for the Suburban Bar Coalition, and on numerous committees with the Women's Bar Association. Served as the Chair of the Constitutional Law Committee for the Chicago Bar Association (CBA), as a Legislative Liaison for the CBA, and as a Chair of the CBA Planning Committee for a Seminar on Hate Speech. Was appointed by the Chicago Bar Association, Board of Managers, to the Judicial Re-Map Subcommittee as well as the Anti-Terrorism Legislation Task Force. Also a member of the Cook County Bar Association, the Chicago Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, and the legal fraternity Phi Alpha Delta. Currently a Board member of the Lane Tech Alumni Association and since 2004, served as President of the Chicago/Cook County 4-H Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing scholarships for deserving 4-H youth who are attending a college or university. Also, currently a member of the NAACP, Chicago South Side Chapter, the IVI-IPO, Equality Illinois, Illinois Democratic Women, the Democratic Party of Evanston, and the Rainbow Push Coalition. Work with the Diversity Scholarship Foundation, Just the Beginning Foundation, and the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network. Conducted several continuing legal education seminars for the North Suburban Bar Association and the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, lectured to senior citizens about employment discrimination issues, including age and disability concerns, as part of the North Suburban Bar Association's Law Day, served, numerous times, as a guest lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law, and served for many years as a judge or instructor for the ?We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution? competition, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education.
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
I am running for the position of Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County because I am deeply concerned about the quality of our judiciary.
During the course of my almost twenty years of litigation, I have been exposed to judges who have committed egregious wrongs against my clients and others.
The citizens of Cook County deserve judges who understand, respect, and love the law, as I do, judges who follow the law, without prejudice, and who treat every litigant with equal dignity, as I will.
Key Issue 2
As an independent candidate, I am beholden only to the dictates of the law.
Independence grants me the courage and fortitude to do what is just, regardless of the circumstances.
I have no interest in maintaining an unjust status quo or in perpetuating institutional wrongs.
Key Issue 3
My view of the law is informed by free choice consistent with concern for the rights of others -- as opposed to blind adherence to authority or public opinion. As a judge, I would use a thoughtful approach to each person and situation in front of me.
Do you favor the appointment of judges or do you prefer the election process' Please explain your answer.
Although not perfect, I believe an elected system is fundamentally most fair.
It provides people who otherwise could not become appointed, because of political reasons, because a member of a disfavored group (e.g., African Americans, Jews, women, members of the LGBT community), or because of any other inappropriate reason.
Almost everyone has the opportunity to get on the ballot and to inform voters about his/her legal experience and knowledge.
The electorate is not ignorant and social media is helping to alleviate problems of information dissemination.
There are, of course, problems raised by the amount of money necessary to run a successful campaign and by the political influence the Democratic Party continues to play in slate-making. I support an elected judiciary because it is most democratic and representative of the people it is designed to serve.
What special qualifications or experiences make you the best person to serve as a judge?
I offer quality, independence, and equality.
The citizens of Cook County deserve an independent judge who knows the law, understands people, who will work tirelessly, and who will treat all citizens of Cook County with dignity and respect.
After almost twenty (20) years of practice, I have developed a broad understanding of the law and have the trial experience necessary to be an outstanding jurist.
And, although I have focused on civil rights, employment discrimination, constitutional, and personal injury law, which cases are most often heard in the Chancery and Law Divisions in the Circuit Court of Cook County or in the Federal District Court, I have litigated almost every type of case heard at the Daley Center and branch courts, including domestic relations, probate, municipal, commercial litigation, and traffic.
I have done many trials, both bench and jury, but also have significant appellate experience, having argued before the Illinois Supreme Court, several of the Illinois Appellate Courts, and before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
One of my recent cases of which I am most proud is the Burr Oak Cemetery litigation.
I am a lead attorney in that matter, having filed the first class action suit in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and having been responsible for the immediate appointment of a receiver to maintain the integrity of the cemetery.
All of the Chancery cases were consolidated with mine and I was appointed by the Circuit Court as liaison counsel with the Law Division cases. One of my clients, of which I have hundreds, sat on the Creditors Committee in Bankruptcy and we assisted with the formulation of a Bankruptcy Plan and the creation of a Trust for the benefit of the cemetery and various creditors.
I am one of the few attorneys who have continued to represent clients despite little monetary remuneration.
Further, I have spent my career championing the rights and responsibilities of teachers, students and administration.
I have conducted numerous labor relations hearings, represented teachers, students and parents in federal court on First Amendment issues, issues of discrimination, and unfair labor practices, and recently, and successfully, conducted a seven day due process termination hearing for a long-time CPS teacher.
I also successfully represented parents, students, and community leaders in their fight against the closure of Thornridge High School.
Moreover, in addition to my experience with civil litigation, I have represented numerous criminal defendants at both the trial and appellate levels.
I began my career as an intern at the Office of the Cook County Public Defender, assisting with felony trials at 26th and California.
After leaving the Public Defender's Office, for several years, I contracted with the State Appellate Defender, First Judicial District, to perform criminal appeals.
My last criminal jury trial, which took place in 2010 and was pro bono, involved a woman charged with three counts of armed robbery in Livingston County.
While my client was convicted, I avoided for her, a mandatory fifteen (15) year enhancement.
I am also challenging, pro bono, the sentence on appeal.
I have always diligently served the under-represented in Cook County, whether in the context of sexual harassment, police brutality, racial profiling, or other governmental overreaching.
My partner and I were proud of the fact that we would rarely turn away any person legitimately in need of legal
services, regardless of available resources.
Although primarily in private practice, I have always considered myself a public servant.
As the eldest of four daughters of two retired Chicago Public School Teachers, I have the highest work ethic and will employ that in both the race for judge and as a sitting judge, once elected.
I helped raise my three sisters and paid my way through both college and law school, often working multiple jobs.
By the time I filled out my Admissions application to the Bar, I had worked in over twenty jobs during school and holidays;
I was a valued employee in each position, whether it was shoe salesperson, caterer, free-lance photographer, or bank teller.
I fully understand the challenges faced by the people of Cook County.
Finally, as a female Jew and member of the LGBT community, I understand what it means to be disenfranchised, to be subjected to different standards than the rest of the community simply because of who you are and in what you believe.
I certainly bring a perspective of diversity and compassion to the bench.
What are your thoughts on mandatory sentencing? Do you believe judges should have greater leeway when it comes to sentencing defendants' Why or why not?
Mandatory sentencing deprives the judiciary of its discretion, which raises separation of power issues.
More importantly, however, it fills our jails with prisoners who should not necessarily be there, costing Illinois taxpayers money that could be better spent on keeping people out of the criminal justice system from the start.
I personally have no interest in perpetuating the criminal justice complex.
As a judge, I would do whatever is most just within the dictates of the law and in accordance with the facts presented.
What are your thoughts on the use of drug courts, domestic violence courts, veterans courts, mental health courts and prostitution courts' Have they been effective?
These "specialized" court have been effective and provide a higher level of service to the citizens of Cook County.
Each of these areas address particular societal concerns, which can be better addressed by a court knowledgeable about all aspects of the problem.
For example, for minor drug offenses, instead of incarceration, the judge can provide education, social services, and other "expert" support.
Domestic violence courts can better monitor behavior, provide consistency amongst litigants, and refer those in need to social services.
Do you support eliminating the ban on cameras and recording devices in Illinois courtrooms' Why or why not?
Although I am very concerned about the accessibility of the judiciary to the public, in my view, privacy concerns of the litigants, witnesses, and jurors outweigh the public interest.
It seems to me that, generally, television coverage of judicial proceedings, i.e., "Judge Judy," has demeaned the legal profession as well as the role of the judge.
Justice is not a spectator sport.