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Brooklyn judges take part in Franklin Williams Judicial Commission mentorship program

September 10, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission for the New York State Courts held a mentoring workshop meeting via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 3 in which a group of speakers discussed how mentorship can help carry out the commission’s goal to ensure equal justice within the court system.

This year’s speakers included Executive Director of the Commission Mary Lynn Nicolas Brewster, who gave opening and closing remarks; the co-chairs of the Commission, Hon. Troy Webber, from the Appellate Division, First Department; and Hon. Shirley Troutman, from the Appellate Division, Second Department.

Hon. Troy Webber.

Other speakers included Hon. Karen Lupuloff, supervising judge of New York County Family Court, a current and former mentor with the Commission; and Hon. Joanne Quinones, a former mentee of Judge Lupuloff and chair of the Commission’s Judicial Mentor Program committee.

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The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission was created in 1991 with the responsibility of developing programs for the court system to improve the perception of fairness within the court system and to ensure equal access to justice. This Judicial Mentorship Program is a part of that, since the Commission pairs sitting judges with attorneys who are interested in becoming judges, either by appointment or by election.

Hon. Cheryl Chambers, from the Appellate Division, Second Department, is serving as a mentor. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

The Judicial Mentorship program was established more than 10 years ago and has helped produce judges like Hon. Quinones and Hon. Lillian Wan. Judge Quinones was appointed to the Commission in 2015 by then-Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and has served as the chair of the mentorship committee since 2017.

“To date, 55 of our colleagues have signed up for the program, and that truly warms my heart not just because I am a strong believer in the power of mentoring but because as you’ve heard, I am a former Franklin Williams Commission mentee,” Judge Quinones said.

Hon. Michael Yavinsky, supervising judge of the Kings County Criminal Court, is serving as a mentor. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

Judge Quinones explained that she had never met Judge Lupuloff when she was paired with her in 2008 and admitted that she wondered why they were paired up at first. However, Judge Quinones went on to say that she ended up relying on Judge Lupuloff for advice on everything including interviews and before, during and after public hearings.

“She coached me and I learned, she challenged me and I grew, she believed in me and here I am today, a judge for almost 10 years and chair of the very program that brought us together,” Judge Quinones said of Judge Lupuloff.

Hon. Patria Frias-Colon is serving as a mentor. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

The commission expects that people entering its mentorship program commit to two face-to-face meetings per year, but encourages those people to schedule more and to be in regular contact via email and by phone. Among the professional guidance offered, mentors are expected to go over the mentees’ qualifications and judicial applications.

Hon. Hilary Gingold is serving as a mentor. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

“For example, if your mentee is applying for a judicial appointment with the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, the body that appoints judges to Criminal or Family Court or as an interim Civil Court judge assigned to one of those courts, and you see that your mentee has no family law experience, you may want to suggest that the mentee go observe Family Court proceedings, take family law CLEs and familiarize themselves with the Family Court Act,” Judge Quinones explained.

Hon. Joanne Quinones took part in the Frank K. Williams’ Mentorship Committee before becoming a judge. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

This year there are several judges from Brooklyn involved in the mentorship program including Hon. Cheryl Chambers, from the Appellate Division, Second Department; Hon. Michael Yavinsky, supervising judge of the Kings County Criminal Court; Hon. Patria Frias-Colon, and Hon. Hilary Gingold.

Other judges, including Hon. Deepa Ambekar, Hon. Frederick Arriaga, Hon. Alicea Elloras, Hon. Rachel Freier, Hon. Richard Montelione, Hon. Derefim Neckles, Hon. Adam Perlmutter, Hon. Remy Smith and Hon. Lillian Wan have also expressed interest in joining.

Hon. Lillian Wan also took part in the Mentorship Committee before becoming a judge. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

The mentorship committee is chaired by Judge Quinones and also includes Hon. Craig Hannah, Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally, Hon. Michael Carlos Lopez, Austin D’Souza and Lauren Jones.

The committee is still accepting mentor and mentee requests.

“The Williams Commission, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2021, is dedicated to ensuring and promoting diversity and equality in our courts,” said Justice Webber. “There remains a lack of diversity across all job titles in the court system, including the judiciary. The mentoring program is an important initiative in that it assists in creating a pool of qualified diverse candidates for judicial positions. The Commission is looking to expand its mentoring programs to include the creation of pipelines for court attorney positions throughout the court system.”


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