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Cynthia Baldwin

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Cynthia Baldwin served on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 2005 to 2008. She is currently in private practice as a partner of the law firm, Duane Morris LLP. Baldwin was the second African-American woman to serve as a jurist on the commonwealth's highest appellate court.

Legal education and experience

Legal education

In 1966, Baldwin graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in English. She then continued her education through a Masters in American Literature at Pennsylvania State University. In 1980, she graduated from Duquesne University School of Law.[1]

Legal Experience

In 1979, Cynthia Baldwin was a Law clerk at Hollinhead and Mendelson. For the years 1980 and 1981, she was a Staff Attorney with the Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship. The two years after that, she was Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and from 1983 to 1986, she was the Attorney in Charge for the Commonwealth. From 1984 to 1987, Baldwin was a professor at Duquesne University School of Law. For two years after, she entered private practice.

In 1989, Baldwin became a judge for Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, and remained there for 16 years. During that same time, she served in the Family Division, Civil Division, as well as the Juvenile Court. In 2005, she was appointed justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.[2]

Political Affiliation and Campaign Contributions

Baldwin never ran for her seat on the Supreme Court, and therefore has no records of campaign contributions.

In the News: Articles

Former Justice Baldwin Joins Duane Morris

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court began its first argument session of the year in March 2008 without former interim Justice Cynthia Baldwin on the bench. Now that her stint on the high court has concluded after the election of Justices Seamus McCaffrey and Debra Todd to the court, Baldwin has joined the partnership of Duane Morris in the firm's Pittsburgh office. Baldwin will focus her practice on appellate litigation within the firm's trial practice group and will also use her education background in representing universities and colleges in litigation, transactional matters, intellectual property, real estate and labor and employment needs. She said she wasn't sure how her time would be split in terms of the dual roles but said it was important to her to join a firm that would allow her to stretch beyond the limits of the appellate practice. Duane Morris' traditional work for not-for-profit organizations will allow her to do work on the education side, she said. The firm approached her once her appointment concluded in January. Baldwin said she is happy where she is now and doesn't see any judicial elections in her future.[3]

Supreme Court upholds taking of private property

"A city agency acted legally when it seized a woman's home to help a religious group build a private school in a blighted Philadelphia neighborhood, the state Supreme Court ruled this week." The decision pitting eminent domain against the separation of church and state reverses a ruling by the lower Commonwealth Court, which had sided with homeowner Mary Smith. "The principal or primary effect of the redevelopment plan ... is to eliminate blight in this particular neighborhood," Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Baldwin wrote for the majority. A secondary effect could be the advancement of religion, but there is no evidence that is the primary goal, she wrote.

The city Redevelopment Authority condemned Smith's property in North Philadelphia in 2003 and transferred it to the Hope Partnership for Education, a Catholic organization that proposed a nondenominational middle school for the site, among other projects. Smith appealed the condemnation, arguing that it benefited a private religious entity and was not for a public purpose as the law requires. Common Pleas Court found the condemnation lawful, Commonwealth Court ruled that it wasn't, and now the Supreme Court has ruled that it is, provided the primary purpose is to remove blight. Supreme Court Justice Max Baer disagreed, calling the majority decision unfortunate. "I believe this is a case of direct government aid, in the form of a land transfer below market value, to a religious organization for the development of a religious school," Baer wrote in his dissent. The result, he wrote, is the "direct financing of religious education with the primary effect of advancing religion."[4]

External links

References


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