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Brooklyn courts show the love for Charmaine Johnson at retirement party

December 16, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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Employees of the Kings County Supreme Court packed into the ceremonial courtroom on Thursday to say goodbye to Charmaine Johnson, who is retiring from the court after nearly 30 years of service.

“It’s a great pleasure to be here today to mark the retirement of Charmaine Johnson and to celebrate all of the remarkable contributions she has made to our court and our court family,” said Hon. Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge of the Supreme Court, Civil Term.

“No matter what she has undertaken, she exhibited hard work, dedication, professional commitment and a wealth of knowledge.”

Hon. Deborah Dowling could not attend the party so she prerecorded a brief video message for Charmaine.

Johnson first came to the court system to work for Judge Salvatore DeMatteo and held various positions over the years. She also helped out on numerous committees including the Bring Your Child to Work Committee, the Black History Month Culinary Committee, the Caribbean Heritage Month Committee and the Employee of the Year Committee.

What really made Johnson stand out was the work she did with the Summer Youth Employment Program that she took over when Izetta Johnson (no relation) retired.

I’ve had the real pleasure of working very closely with Charmaine,” said Chief Clerk Charles Small. “When Izetta’s position came up, there were many people that we discussed, but when we talked about Charmaine, she really felt like the right person, with the passion and love for kids. She has not disappointed.”

The court interns became such a big part of Johnson’s life that when it came time for her to speak at the retirement party, she only did so after calling all of the past and current court interns up to the podium to stand with her. She said that leading that program was one of the most fulfilling things that she had done in her life.

“When I came here, I did not know what to expect,” Johnson said. “I was scared, nervous and I did not know the ins and outs of a courthouse. Everything I knew was negative. The most I knew was that this was a place where you came to get judged, and you could end up in jail.
I knew that when the interns came here, they could be scared. It was up to me and the supervisors to assure them that this was a place where they could learn.”

The party to say goodbye was truly a celebration. Run by Hon. Robin Sheares with the help of many including Lissette Morales and Betty Matondo-John, plus Hon. Deborah Dowling, who couldn’t be there, but pre-recorded a goodbye message that was played for everyone to enjoy.

A handful of people gave short speeches including Justice Knipel; Chief Clerks Charles Small and Daniel Alessandrino, who brought a message from Hon. Matthew D’Emic with him; and Fausto Sabatino, president of Local 1070, DC37, who also presented Johnson with a plaque.

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