Karen Bailey Turner, Esq. has lived and practiced law in Monroe County for over 21 years. She is running for Monroe County Court Judge because she is an experienced and qualified attorney who knows the law, is ethical and fair and firmly believes in equal access to justice for all those who enter our court system.
A native of London, England, Karen spent her early childhood in Jamaica, West Indies before emigrating to the U.S. and living in Brooklyn, NY. Karen attended college at Cornell University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. As an undergraduate student at Cornell, Karen won several awards in the Cornell Law School/William E. Mcknight mock trial competition, sponsored by Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon, Peabody).
Karen holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Communication from The American University in Washington, D.C. While in graduate school she worked on Capitol Hill as an Intern and participated in a comparative law study abroad program at Oxford University in England. Before becoming a lawyer, Karen worked as a Program Instructor for the Close-Up Foundation, a non-partisan civics education program in Alexandria, VA. Karen and other Program Instructors used innovative ways to educate high school students from around the country using the nation's capital as a classroom. Karen also worked as a Production Assistant for Close-Up on C-Span, the organization's educational Cable TV program, before leaving to attend law school.
Karen obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the State University of Buffalo School of Law where she served on the Jessup International Law Moot Court Board and won several awards in moot court competitions at and for the law school. She is a recipient of Order of the Barrister and the Harold A. Dautch Memorial Scholarship Award. After completing law school, Karen accepted an offer from Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon, Peabody) and relocated to Rochester where she worked as an Associate Attorney in the firm's Real Estate and Banking/Lending practice groups.
After leaving Nixon, Karen practiced Criminal Law for over 16 years as an Assistant Public Defender and in private practice. During this time she represented thousands of defendants on various types of criminal charges ranging from non-criminal violations and misdemeanors in the town courts and City Court to non-violent and violent felonies in County and Supreme Court. Karen has appeared in County Court regularly and is experienced in handling arraignments, bail hearings, criminal investigations, pre-trial conferences, negotiations with prosecutors, legal research, drafting and arguing motions, and conducting suppression hearings on the legality of evidence. She has significant trial experience and has tried numerous jury and bench (non-jury) cases. Karen also worked at the law firm of Brown Hutchinson, LLP (BH) where she developed the firm's Criminal Law practice and represented indigent clients, via the Monroe County Assigned Counsel Program, and private clients. While at BH she also represented prisoners (some of them, pro bono) in civil rights matters in Federal Court.
Karen currently serves as an Associate Attorney at the Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS), NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department. In that capacity, Karen represents mentally ill patients in hospitals, psychiatric centers and prisons and alleged incapacitated persons (often elderly and vulnerable) in guardianship proceedings. Representing these clients in civil and forensic proceedings in County and Supreme Court has provided Karen with a better understanding of mental disorders and how mental illness and chemical dependency sometimes lead people to the criminal justice system.
Karen's significant legal experience has given her an in-depth look at both challenges within our criminal justice system and potential solutions. She has worked with the legal community to educate the public about issues related to access to justice such as improving the quality of legal representation and increasing diversity in the legal profession. Karen is a former President of the Rochester Black Bar Association (RBBA) and received RBBA's Trailblazer Award in 2016, after her 20 year tenure in the organization and service in almost every leadership position therein. She has also received the Monroe County Bar Association's (MCBA) 2015 President's Award for her work with MCBA, where she has served as Chair of the Criminal Justice Section, a Trustee, and in several other capacities.
Karen serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Pre-Trial Services Corporation, an agency that helps courts assess defendants for alternatives to incarceration and, if necessary, assists with their treatment needs while their criminal cases are pending. She is a New York Bar Foundation Fellow and has previously served as a Cabinet Member of the Volunteer Legal Services Project (VLSP) Campaign for Justice to raise money for civil legal services for the indigent. She is a member of the Rochester Jamaican Organization's (RJO) Advisory Council where she has developed and managed the RJO's Annual Gala Silent Auction to raise money for scholarships for students of Jamaican descent and other charitable causes.
Karen lives in Rochester with her husband Robert, a Family Law attorney and Assistant Public Defender. They share an interest in mentoring young people and have jointly coached various high school teams for the Seneca Waterways Council Boy Scouts of America Law Explorers, the Urban League and the RBBA for several years. Whenever they get a chance, Karen and Robert love taking advantage of the cultural events that Rochester has to offer as well as traveling around the country and globe to visit family and explore new places together.
Karen believes that becoming a Monroe County Court Judge would be an excellent way for her to continue serving the community by using her legal knowledge and experience to ensure the fair and equitable administration of justice to all those who enter the court system. If elected, she would the first Black (male or female) ever elected as Monroe County Court Judge and would add, she believes, a new perspective and level of sensitivity to the court.
Please join us in supporting Karen Bailey Turner, an experienced, attorney and passionate advocate for justice on her historic journey to the Monroe County bench!