Brooklyn Boro

Judicial Friends Association honors four retiring justices during holiday party

November 27, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Judicial Friends honored four retiring judges during its annual holiday reception. Pictured from left: President of Judicial Friends Hon. Ruth E. Shillingford, Hon. Eugene Oliver Jr., Hon. Richard B. Lowe, Hon. James Sullivan, Hon. Fern Fisher, Hugh Campbell and Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

The Judicial Friends Association hosted its annual holiday party where it honored four retiring justices, including Hon. Fern A. Fisher, at Brooklyn Law School on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The annual event was hosted by both the Judicial Friends Association and the Judicial Friends Foundation. The association was established in 1976 by African-American judges and monitors administrative and policy issues within the court system, holds programs and mentors new attorneys and judges.

“Over the years, we have been lucky to have trailblazers in this organization — people who have been able to ensure that this organization and other judges of color were able to make it on the bench,” said Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix. “These are people who constantly reached back.”

The four retiring judges were honored for their work with the group over the years. That included Fisher, Hon. Richard B. Lowe III, Hon. Eugene Oliver Jr. and Hon. James Sullivan.

Hinds-Radix introduced each honoree starting with Fisher, whom she praised for her role as deputy chief administrative judge of New York City Courts and also as the director of the NYC Courts Access to Justice program. Fisher currently works at Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.

“I’m having a good time at Hofstra, they take good care of me,” Fisher said. “The students of color there need great mentoring. Those of you who have time, reach back to your law schools and help someone who is still struggling to find a place in this profession. They’re struggling, trust me.”

Lowe joked that after 50 years as a public servant, he was finally done. He called the Judicial Friends one of the most important organizations in the court system along with the Franklin H. Williams Commission, which he chairs.

Oliver said that mentoring new judges as they came into the system was one of the biggest joys of his career and Sullivan described the fine line that judges have to walk.

“One of the nice things that I got to do was to teach some of the newer judges as they were coming into the system on how to survive in Criminal Court,” Oliver said. “Boy do you need to survive in Criminal Court.”

“My service has gratified me,” Sullivan said. “The whole business of walking the line between being not being too soft, but also looking into how that defendant got before you — is there any possible redemption there?”

Hinds-Radix and President Hon. Ruth Shillingford also presented a group of law school students with scholarships at the event.

The event was organized by Shillingford and Justice Cheryl J. Gonzales.