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National Association of Women Judges helps mentor Brooklyn high school students

March 28, 2016 By Justice Ruth Shillingford Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Hon. Betty J. Williams, Hon. Franc Perry, Hon. Ruth Shillingford, Hon. Cheryl Gonzales, Hon. Matt D'Emic, Hon. Shawndya Simpson, Hon. Joanne D. Quinones, Hon. Margarita Lopez Torres, Hon. Wavny Toussaint. Photos by Roderick Randall
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The National Association of Women Judges, New York Chapter, in conjunction with the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA, held its annual “Color of Justice” program at the Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Friday, March 18.

The program, which seeks to introduce high school students of color to the legal and judicial systems, began with snacks for the students followed by presentations by various panelists. Judge Ruth Shillingford served as the moderator and welcomed the group of 23 students, who hailed from various high schools throughout Brooklyn and are members of three YMCA Teen Programs.

Justice Matthew D’Emic, the administrative judge for criminal matters, welcomed the group of students, and Justice Joanne Quinones led a Mentor Jet session, during which students were paired with a panelist for one-on-one questioning by the students, with the students rotating every few minutes. Hon. W. Franc Perry and Fayola Williams both participated in the session.

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Another panel, “Law as a Career: Preparing the Way,” explored the law school application process, law school and post law-school experience, as well as the difference between public and private practice. The panel consisted of Brooklyn Law School student Desiree Alexander; Dorothy Moran, the associate director of admissions at St. John’s University School of Law; Chaka Laguerre, a graduate student at the University of Cambridge in London; Hon. Susana Rojas, the clerk of the court, Appellate Division, First Department; and Thomas Reid, an attorney with Consolidated Edison.

The final phase of the program, “The Color of Justice — Judges Making a Difference,” consisted of two panels. The first panel included Hon. Sterling Johnson, Hon Cheryl J. Gonzales, Hon. Wavny Toussaint, Hon. ShawnDya Simpson and Hon. Jacqueline Williams. They were followed by a panel comprised of Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Hon. Evelyn LaPorte, Hon. Lillian Wan, Hon. Margarita Lopez Torres and Hon. Alvin Yearwood.

The judges were able to provide the students with wide ranging information related to the New York City, New York state and federal court systems. The program ended with dinner, followed by the presentation of certificates and gift bags for the students. The students were encouraged to continue the dialogue with the panelists, including visiting and/or seeking internships with them.


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