Cheryl Lynne Austin is one of the Democratic candidates for Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. She grew up in Ohio and was the only one of five children to graduate from college. Like many young people of limited means she paid for college by joining ROTC and going into the military. The year she joined the Navy ROTC at Northwestern was the first year women were allowed participate. After seven years of active duty she joined the Reserves, serving a total of 24 years in total before retiring in 2004. Both in the military and after leaving active duty she worked in human relations and labor issues.
In her late thirties she decided to go to law school at night and start a second career as a lawyer. After graduating she worked for the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. In 1996 she moved to Pennsylvania and has worked in real estate law and family law and also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Montgomery County, a Pennsylvania Assistant Public Defender, as well as other legal work. She and her husband have one child.
As a veteran she has an interest in veteran’s law and served as the eastern regional vice chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association's Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee. She has also chaired the Montgomery County Commission on Women and Families and was appointed a trustee at the Montgomery County Community College. She has been recognized by the American Business Women's Association as an Outstanding Business Woman, and was named a Rising Star among elder law attorneys by Philadelphia Magazine. In addition she was chair of the Diversity Committee of the Montgomery Bar Association, was a member of the Minority Attorney Committee of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and is a member of the Willow Grove Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America. Austin is active in the Willow Grove chapter of the Pennsylvania NAACP and was the 2001 recipient of NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award.
This is all very impressive and a good background for a judge. During the years I have been writing this blog I’ve run into Austin a number of times. She’s quiet and low key and genuinely friendly. I quite like her, more importantly if I or any member of my family or any of my friends ever had to go before a judge I hope it would be Cheryl Austin or someone like her.
Hessler, Jr., Carl, “Crowded field for Montco judges,” Pottstown Mercury, October 25, 2009
O’Toole, Stephen, “Setting sail,” Times Herald, June 24, 2001
Campaign website: http://www.cherylaustinforjudge.com/Questionnaire for Philly.com: http://media.philly.com/documents/cheryl+austin+montco.pdf