Brooklyn Boro

De Blasio appoints, reappoints judges, many with ties to Brooklyn

April 16, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced 18 judicial appointments and reappointments to Family Court, Criminal Court and Civil Court, many of whom have ties to Brooklyn or have presided over Brooklyn courtrooms.

“These appointees represent some of the fiercest champions of justice our City has to offer,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “By leading our courts, they will play a critical role in my administration’s effort toward a recovery for all New Yorkers.”

Judge Keisha Espinal was appointed to the Criminal Court in May 2017. She is currently the supervising judge of Kings County Criminal Court. Judge Espinal formerly served with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for 16 years in several bureaus, including as a supervising assistant district attorney for the Domestic Violence Bureau.

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Judge Deepa Ambekar, Brooklyn Criminal Court. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

Judge Deepa Ambekar has presided over the bench at Brooklyn Criminal Court on Schermerhorn Street since 2018. Prior to her appointment, Judge Ambekar served with the New York City Council as a senior legislative attorney and counsel to the Committee on Public Safety. 

Judge Quynda Santacroce was first appointed as an interim Civil Court Judge in January 2019 and has been serving in Brooklyn Criminal Court. Judge Santacroce previously served with the New York State Unified Court System as a principal court attorney in Criminal Court, Queens County in the Integrated Domestic Violence Part/Queens Youth Part. 

Judge Jean Walsh was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January 2020 and has been serving in Brooklyn Criminal Court. Judge Walsh began her career at the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, where she served in various bureaus for 14 years before joining the United States Attorney’s Office, SDNY, and the New York State Inspector General’s Office. 

Judge Jay Weiner has been serving in Manhattan Criminal Court since 2019, but prior to that he served as an ADA in Brooklyn as well as in Queens. Judge Weiner also served with the New York State Unified Court System as a principal law clerk in the Appellate Division, Second Department, which is located in Brooklyn Heights. 

Judge Janet McFarland received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School and has served with the Mental Hygiene Legal Service as principal attorney in Woodhull Medical Center, also in Brooklyn. She also has served as a court attorney referee in Richmond County Family Court. Judge McFarland is appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Family Court.

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Judge Gilbert Hong, an acting Supreme Court Justice, was appointed to the Criminal Court in September 2008 and has presided over the court in Kings County. He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in July 2007 serving in Criminal Court. Prior to his appointment, he was with the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

Judge Robert Hettleman was first appointed as a Family Court judge in December 2013 and served for four years in Bronx County. He began his career as a law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann, Eastern District of New York, headquartered in Brooklyn.

Judge Christopher Robles was appointed to the Criminal Court in January 2018. He was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in June 2017 and served in Criminal Court. Judge Robles was in private practice for nearly 18 years with litigation experience in family law, civil practice, and appellate practice. 

Other judges include:

Judge Ashley Black was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January 2020 and serves in Family Court. Judge Black began her legal career as an Agency Attorney with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). 

Judge Paul McDonnell was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in January and serves in Criminal Court. Judge McDonnell served with the New York State Unified Court System for over three decades in various roles.

Judge Linda Poust Lopez was elected to Civil Court in January 2011 and has been serving in Criminal Court. She was designated as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court in 2017. 

Judge Gigi Parris was formerly a corporate associate with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.  After three years, she became a Family Defense Practice Staff Attorney with The Bronx Defenders. 

Judge Elenor C. Reid Cherry was appointed to the Family Court in January 2018. She was first appointed as an interim Civil Court Judge in June 2017 and served in Family Court. 

 Judge Valerie Pels was appointed to the Family Court in January 2013. Prior to her appointment, she served with the Legal Aid Society in the Juvenile Rights Division for over eight years. 

Judge Efrain Alvarado, an Acting Supreme Court Justice, was first appointed to the Criminal Court in August 1988. He formerly served as the Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters of the Supreme Court in Bronx County from 2009 to 2013.  

Judge Cori Weston was appointed to the Criminal Court in June 2016. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she served as an attorney with the New York County Defender Services for nearly 19 years and The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division for seven years.  

Judge Jonathan Shim was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in February 2018 and has been serving in Family Court. Prior to his appointment, Judge Shim worked as an associate at several firms before starting his own practice in family and matrimonial law.


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