Carla Baldwin Shatters Glass Ceiling in Youngstown

By Melissa Turosik

A part-time instructor in the Criminal Justice & Forensic Sciences Department at Youngstown State University was sworn in as the first African-American female Youngstown Municipal Court Judge.

Magistrate Carla Baldwin said it feels great to make history, not imagining this would happen when she dreamt of becoming a judge at 12 years old.

“It’s pretty amazing to know I went down in the history books as breaking barriers and shattering the ceiling and just making all kids believe whatever they want to do is possible,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin’s goal in the position will be to learn the inner workings of the job, she said.

“[I’m] looking at what we can do to better help those who appear before the court and looking forward to providing drug treatment and mental health and specialize doctors for the community to get them the help they need in support of the court,” Baldwin said.

She said a friend approached her and said that Municipal Court Judge Robert Milich was retiring and said that Baldwin would be good at the job. Baldwin then decided to run as Municipal Court Judge.

Baldwin said she will continue to teach part-time at YSU during her tenure as judge.

Baldwin said that the authority to make decisions that best help people draws her to the bench.

“It comes with a lot of power, comes with prestige and that’s not why I do it. It’s the opportunity to get a lay of the land, to hear people, to see what they need and apply the law appropriately,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin offered some advice for young people trying to achieve their dreams.

“The number one thing I say is look at your dream, your desire,” she said. “You have to have an honest assessment and an honest talk with yourself and ask [if it’s] something I’m good at … Anything worth obtaining is going to be challenging, but it will definitely be worth it.”

Baldwin said her previous experience as a magistrate in the juvenile court helped her prepare for the role.

“Making decisions about people’s lives when determining whether or not a child goes home, what’s appropriate for an adult or knowing how to utilize and work with our social services agencies definitely was beneficial in understanding how the law and community can come together and perform a whole lot of good,” Baldwin said.

Cynthia Little, a friend of Baldwin, said she is a kind, compassionate and intelligent woman.

“We connected as friends so easily and now we call ourselves ‘sisters.’ Judge Baldwin is very passionate about the well-being of others, especially youth. We share similar visions of helping others,” Little said.

Little said she sees Baldwin accomplishing a lot as the new municipal court judge.

“She will educate the public to the operation of the court, and she will ensure effectiveness of the court to stop the revolving door that some individuals have experienced,” Little said.

Allison Ware, a friend of Baldwin, said she sees Baldwin breaking barriers in the court room.

“I see her breaking down barriers between citizens and the court system, people knowing that when they go into her court room they aren’t just another person she is seeing but an actual human being,” Ware said.