SUNNY BAILEY- FAMILY COURT JUDGE, DEPT i
Sunny was born in the State of Washington. She is the first person born in the United States on her mother’s side and the third generation on her father’s side of the family. Her mother would share details of her walk to Seoul during the Korean War. She had equally terrifying accounts of relatives who disappeared in her native Korea without a trace and never heard from again. Her father would share the history of his family which included the forced removal of her great-grandfather from the family farm located outside of Kiev, Ukraine because of his alleged criticism of the government. As punishment, her great-grandfather was sent to Siberia to perform hard labor. After the second time, he and her great-grandmother managed escape to Germany and made their way to the United States. They settled in the town of Chehalis, Washington.
Her parents married and moved just outside of Chehalis to the town of Adna (current population of approximately 3700) located halfway between Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Her father utilized the skills he obtained in the Coast Guard and worked as a heavy equipment mechanic. Her mother ran her own hair salon. Sunny graduated in the top ten from W.F.West High School in Chehalis in 1988 with Honors and as a W.F. West Scholarship recipient. During high school, she worked at her mother’s hair salon and the local McDonalds. She attended the University of Washington in Seattle and graduated with her B.A. in Sociology in 1992. She waited tables at a sushi restaurant to help alleviate the costs of her education.
Two weeks prior to her senior year, Sunny’s parents were involved in a near fatal car accident. Her mother broke numerous bones in her body and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair. Sunny cared for her during the following year while working as a respiratory therapy technician in the emergency room at the local hospital to help support the family.
During that year, she applied to law schools but did not expect to attend due to her mother’s health. Her mother managed to take her first steps one week before she started law school at Seattle University School of Law. She commuted back to Adna every weekend to continue her work at the hospital and assist with her mother’s care.
Her second year of law school, Sunny obtained the highly coveted Rule 9 internship with the King County Prosecutor’s Office. The Rule 9 status allowed a student attorney the opportunity to practice in the King County District Courts. This experience shaped her into the attorney and jurist Sunny is today. The first judge Sunny appeared before gave her advice Sunny follows to this day - “be on time and prepared”. By the end of her internship, Sunny completed over a dozen jury trials. At the conclusion of the summer, the City of Federal Way hired her as a Rule 9 intern for her third year of law school based solely on the Chief Deputy City Attorney’s observations of her performance.
After graduation, Sunny returned to King County as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. During that time, King County rated in the top three Prosecutor’s Office in the Country based upon volume and trial experience. Sunny spent every day either in trial or in court and learned how to juggle a high volume of cases effectively and efficiently. This practice continued when Sunny moved to the closer location of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
Sunny left the office after the birth of her first child. However, she continued to work as a prosecutor for a firm that performed City Attorney functions to the smaller municipalities in the area. Unfortunately, her world changed when the doctors diagnosed her daughter with low functioning autism at age two. Sunny became singly obsessed and devoted to the diagnosis and care of her daughter. By age three, her daughter became so violent the doctors recommended she be placed outside of the home. Sunny refused and the family agreed that the solution was to relocate to assist her daughter.
That solution came in the form of a newspaper article that described an amazing program out of UCLA that helped autistic children in Las Vegas. She met with the representatives of that program in 2003 and never looked back. Sunny applied and accepted employment as a law clerk with the Office of the Public Defender, as she was not yet a member of the Nevada State Bar. She became a member of the Nevada State Bar in 2004. In 2006, Sunny and a co-worker, Jeff Jaeger, authored the Nevada Courtroom Handbook on Evidence, which was published by Westlaw (Thomas Reuters). The Handbook is considered a vital resource for litigation and is currently on its thirteen edition.
The Applied Behavior Analysis program through the Lovaas Center changed their lives. Prior to the program, her daughter bit, kicked, put her head and feet through walls, and screamed for hours. She could not communicate verbally at all and engaged in repetitive behavior. Sunny was fortunate enough to work for amazing organizations that allowed her the flexibility to practice law and take care of the needs of her daughter. After several years at the Office of the Public Defenders, Rawlings, Olson, Cannon, Gormley and Desrussieux (now known as Olson, Cannon, Gormley, Angulo & Stoberski) offered her the opportunity to expand her knowledge from criminal to civil litigation.
Now, over 15 years later, her daughter has limited speech but is able to communicate her wants and needs via technology. She is no longer violent and thanks to the wonderful support of the autism community, Sunny has been able to have an amazing legal career, and eventually went into practice for herself. While Sunny enjoyed being in practice for herself, Sunny jumped at the opportunity to become the Deputy Labor Commissioner. This experience culminated in her appointment as the Acting Labor Commissioner in June of 2014. As the Acting Labor Commissioner, Sunny became responsible for a multi-million dollar budget, a staff of 18 employees and the day-to-day operations of the office.
These experiences assisted her in her selection as a Hearing Master for the Eighth Judicial District Court, Family Court. Her selection to this position is especially important to her, as Sunny was supported by her colleagues in the community and chosen by members of the judiciary. Sunny currently serve as a Hearing Master for Juvenile Delinquency.
Recently, Sunny was able to utilize her experiences as the mother of an autistic child to assist other youths in the juvenile system. In April of 2018, Sunny created the Detention Alternative for Autistic Youth (D.A.A.Y. Court), a diversion court aimed to address the issues of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. D.A.A.Y. Court is the first program in the nation to address the issues of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The response and support from colleagues and the community has been overwhelming and Sunny looks forward to continuing to develop this pilot project. She was an invited presenter on D.A.A.Y. Court at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Annual Conference in 2019.
Sunny resides in Las Vegas with her husband, two daughters and nineteen year old rescue dog.
Paid for by the Committee to Elect Sunny Bailey