Ivan Shutinya is a 29 year old lawyer running for Baltimore County Orphans Court Judge. Shutinya graduated magna cum laude from St. Mary’s College and in 2006, received a service award from the University of Maryland Law School as he graduated. While in college, he specifically studied family law – providing him with a good background for the role. Due to the economy, he was laid off last fall and decided to run full time for Judge of the Orphan’s Court. Shutinya’s goal is to eventually be the first disabled member of the Supreme Court because what I haven’t told you about Mr. Shutinya is that he suffers from cerebral palsy, and was specifically diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia. Despite all these challenges, the wheel-chair bound Shutinya achieved so much in his life already. I contacted Shutinya, who was willing to answer some of my questions in an email-based interview. His answers are below.
Matthew R. Newman: What made you decide to run for Orphans Court?
Ivan J. Shutinya: I decided to run for Orphans Court for several reasons. I have always dreamed of being a judge, As an attorney with knowledge of estates and trusts, elder law, and the judicial process I am qualified for the position. I was laid off, a while ago and have had a hard time finding a job. This was a good time to run, as I would not have to leave my job to pursue the position. Also, I want to work and serve my community. As a person with a permanent disability I am legally entitled to receive money from the state if I so choose. I have declined to take that money, as I do not want the taxpayers supporting me. I want to earn a living. That money is earmarked for those incapable of working. I am qualified and capable of working.
MRN: The Orphans Court is not a very well understood role for many voters. How do you reach out to ensure that voters know about you and the position?
IJS: I have a very limited budget, but I have tried to speak at every event that I have been invited to attend. I also have two websites that discuss me and my campaign for Orphans Court. I have given interviews to anyone willing to interview me. I’ve been e-mailing and calling friends and family asking them to get the word out. I try to talk to as many people as possible. A real low-budget grassroots effort.
MRN: What do you feel is the most important characteristic of a potential member of the Orphans Court?
IJS: The most important characteristic for a member of the Orphans Court, or any court for that matter is total impartiality. A judge must be able to hear evidence, and apply the law without allowing his/her personal views or political ideology to influence the outcome of the case.
MRN: What do you feel makes you a uniquely qualified candidate for Orphans Court?
IJS: In addition to the qualifications I have already mentioned I have severe Cerebral Palsy. When a litigant comes before the court often times they feel vulnerable. I am physically vulnerable every day of my life, I will bring a unique sensitivity and perspective to the bench. Also, my disability has forced me to work harder than the average person in order to achieve my goals. Whether personal[Learning to walk] or professional[becoming a member of the Maryland Bar] If elected, I pledge to be the hardest worker to ever sit on the bench
MRN: What Judge living or deceased would you say is your role model?
IJS: I don’t really have one Judge that I consider a definitive role model above all others. There are many I respect a lot. To name some: Judge Richard Posner, Judge Guido Calabresi, Chief Justices. Rehnquist and Warren. Justices O’Connor and Marshall.
MRN: What is your opinion on the three, Democratic incumbent judges?
IJS: The sitting Judges are good people, I have a lot of respect for them. They have been classy and respectful of me during the campaign. I believe I am the best candidate, because I combine legal experience, with unique life experience.
MRN: This year, Maryland voters will get to decide on whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention. Would you vote in favor of holding a Convention?
IJS: I am very torn on this issue. On one hand, I believe we, as a state should always be reviewing our laws to ensure they are fair and reflective of current society. On the other hand times are tough right now,and it could turn out to be an expensive event, and there is no guarantee that voters would approve of the new Constitution. I’m undecided, but leaning toward yes, as I’m inclined to favor review of the law.
MRN: What is the one thing you want to ensure that potential voters know about your candidacy?
IJS: I am a very qualified attorney, with a disability, who is eager to contribute and serve my community.
Shutinya already had my vote. He’s a solid candidate who will bring a great perspective to the court. Please consider voting for him on November 2nd or tomorrow during early voting. He’ll be a great, non-partisan, and fair judge and his inspirational story makes him a hero already to me.
Cross-posted from Old Line Elephant