On June 25 voters in the Sixth Municipal District – which includes Midwood, Crown Heights, Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Park Slope and Kensington – will vote for the next Democratic nominee for Civil Court Judge. Caroline Cohen is one of four candidates running to represent the Democratic Party. There are no Republican candidates, so whoever wins the Democratic primary will represent nearly 400,000 Brooklyn residents. Cohen, who has been a litigator her entire career as an attorney, loves engaging with individuals and the community and enjoys helping people. “I like to hear people’s story and then help them tell it. As a litigator, I help people articulate their problems and then solve them,” she explains.
Cohen described one of her client’s dire situations: “She is an elderly woman living in rent-stabilized housing, and the landlord has not repaired the home in ten years. There is a hole in the floor where the woman can see into the apartment below. She has lived in this home since 1973 and she wants to stay in it, but it is not a safe place for her anymore.” Cohen said that she sees the value and importance in helping this one woman remain in the home she loves, but Cohen also feels that serving as a Civil Court Judge will further her commitment to her community and bring her ability to help people to the next level. “I genuinely like to work in the service of others,” said Cohen. “If I can leave things better than I found them – it’s a win.”
Cohen is a ten-year resident of Flatbush and lives with her husband, Steven Cohen, also an attorney, their two small children and a pet dog. “We have deep roots in Brooklyn. Raising family in a borough that has offered so much support is a real privilege.”
Cohen also explained that she was the only candidate who resides in the district who was found qualified by four independent screening committees. Cohen has also been endorsed by District Leaders Doug Schneider, David Schwartz, Lori Maslow, Ari Kagan and Assemblywomen Rodneyse Bichotte, Helene Weinstein, and Helen Rosenthal. A number of clubs have also endorsed Cohen: Brooklyn Young Democrats, Shirley Chisholm Club, the Progressive Association for Political Action (PAPA) and Bay Democrats. According to Cohen, she is the only candidate in this race who has been endorsed by elected officials from every assembly district.
Cohen has over a decade of legal experience. She attended New York University for her undergraduate degree in Art History and Critical Theory and for her M.A. in Arts Administration with a focus on non-profit management. She received her J.D. from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2008. After finishing her degree, she completed a two-year fellowship with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) doing appellate work.
When the fellowship ended, she continued to work for the NYCHA full-time until two years ago when Susan Crumiller, offered her a role at the firm she founded, Crumiller PC. The two had met earlier through a local parent group. Crumiller PC specializes in cases regarding gender discrimination, caregiver discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment. The firm also offers legal advice for women-owned businesses and certain landlord-tenant cases.
Cohen said that she loves her current job but feels she is uniquely well-positioned to serve on the bench. “The diversity of what I’ve seen in my cases and the diversity of the judges I’ve argued before, have taught me that everyone must be respected and treated fairly. Becoming a judge will let me further serve my community.” Cohen, according to her campaign website, was also inspired to run for Civil Court Judge by her late mother, who was never afforded the chance to go to law school and become a judge, even though it was her dream.
Whoever is elected to this judgeship will preside over cases with judgments of a maximum $25,000 award. The cases can be in civil, criminal or family court. For now, Cohen is enjoying the campaign trail. “I love campaigning,” Cohen said passionately, “I like being in front of people and learning so much in the process. People share things that you carry with you.” Whether she wins or loses the election, Caroline Cohen will certainly continue to use her experience and skills to support the Midwood and Brooklyn community.