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ELECTIONS 2024: JUDICIAL 7th Sub-Circuit Candidate Deidre Baumann (Solganick Vacancy), why she's running, strategy
by Carrie Maxwell
2024-02-19

This article shared 10533 times since Mon Feb 19, 2024
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Baumann & Shuldiner civil litigation practice owner Deidre Baumann is running in the March 19 primary for Circuit Court Judge in the 7th Judicial Sub-Circuit against the current appointed 7th Sub-Circuit Judge Owens J. Shelby. Shelby's term ends Dec. 2.

Baumann, who is bisexual, has been a practicing lawyer for over three decades, having graduated from University of Illinois College of Law in 1992. That same year, Baumann was given the Rickert Award for Excellence in Public Service.

Her first job as a lawyer was as an intern at the Cook County Public Defender's office assisting with felony jury trials. Then Baumann moved to a small firm that specialized in First Amendment law where she stayed until 1996 when she opened her Baumann & Shuldiner law office. She has since represented clients in many litigation areas.

Over her 31 year career as an attorney, Baumann has appeared in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels, representing a diverse clientele on a wide variety of legal matters, most notably in the areas of personal injury, civil rights and employment discrimination. Among Baumann's most notable cases was as a lead counsel in the Burr Oak Cemetery litigation, where she filed the first class-action lawsuit in the Cook County Circuit Court's Chancery Division.

Currently, Baumann is LAGBAC Chicago's LGBTQ+ Bar Association secretary and has served on their board of directors for many years. She also serves on the Decalogue Foundation board and as the Lawyers Club of Chicago secretary/treasurer. Baumann previously served as the Illinois State Bar Association Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee chair; president of both the Decalogue Society of Lawyers and North Suburban Bar Association; and on the executive boards of the Women's Bar Association of Illinois and the Chicago Bar Association Alliance for Women.

A lifelong Chicagoan, Baumann graduated from Lane Tech High School. Currently, she is a Lane Tech Alumni Association board member and was the organization's secretary for several years.

Baumann has been found qualified or recommended by the following bar associations: Arab American Bar Association, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area, Black Men Lawyers' Association, Black Women Lawyers' Association of Greater Chicago, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Cook County Bar Association, Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, LAGBAC, Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois and the Women's Bar Association of Illinois.

Whomever wins this primary will be unopposed in the November General Election. There is no Republican running for this seat.

Windy City Times: Why did you decide to run again to become a judge? I see that you were a candidate for county-wide judge vacancies in other election cycles.

Deidre Baumann: I have seen a lot of bad judging in Cook County. The reason why I went to law school was to make a difference and I want to continue doing that as a judge. I want to improve the judiciary. People deserve a judge who is fair to everyone and treats everyone with dignity and respect. I will be that kind of judge. Also, I decided I was going to try one more time to pursue this dream of becoming a judge.

WCT: How has the campaign gone so far? What have you done differently this time that you did not do in your previous campaigns?

DB: This is the first time I am running in a sub-circuit. Previously I ran in county-wide races. The type of campaigning is rather different when you are running in a sub-circuit. It is a more personal, community-oriented, boots-on-the-ground effort. I have been getting out there more to meet the people and that includes knocking on doors. I think this campaign has gone well, and I believe I will win this time.

WCT: What sets you apart from your challenger, recently-appointed 7th Sub-Circuit Judge Owens J. Shelby?

DB: I have a lot more experience than Judge Shelby. He has been practicing for about 15 years to my 31 years. From what I understand, he was previously a state's attorney for the entire time he has been a lawyer, which is a very narrow focus. My experience is much broader. I have done both criminal work with the public defender, and I continue to do criminal defense work, and then [there is also] my civil work that includes civil rights, employment discrimination and personal injury cases. I have actually appeared in every courthouse in every division in Cook County at one time or another.

WCT: Which cases do you want to highlight over your three decade career as a lawyer?

DB: Most recently I filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and amended complaint against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District to prevent the defendants from using Amundsen Park Field House as a migrant shelter. That was very important to the Austin and West Side communities because that park services hundreds of people, and especially the youth and elder populations, in those neighborhoods. The people rely on that field house. The city ultimately backed down and it was a huge victory for those neighborhoods.

I have also dealt with cases involving LGBTQ+ discrimination. I recently represented a transgender woman who was being harassed at work and was able to get a settlement from her employer.

WCT: Why do you think it is important to have LGBTQ+ judges like yourself on the bench?

DB: It is important to have a diverse bench, so people feel comfortable appearing in court on cases. In Cook County, most people interact with the court systems through traffic, family, juvenile or probate court and these things fundamentally impact their lives, so they need to see people who look like and understand them, regardless of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or what have you.

WCT: Are there any endorsements you want to highlight?

DB: This is a grassroots campaign so I am counting on the endorsement of the people. I am officially endorsed by 27th Ward Alderman and 27th Ward Democratic Committeeperson Walter Burnett Jr.; former Secretary of State Jesse White; Maywood Mayor Nathaniel Booker; Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson; former Cook County Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Barbara McGowan; and Black Men United.

WCT: What else would you like voters to know about you?

DB: I am the first lawyer in my family. I am the daughter of two high school teachers and came from modest means. I started working as soon as I could do so to save for college and law school. I have worked very hard to get where I am today. I recognize how difficult life can be for people, and I carry that understanding and empathy with me and will continue to do so as a judge.

See baumannforjudge.com/ and facebook.com/BaumannForJudge/ .

NOTE: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


This article shared 10533 times since Mon Feb 19, 2024
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