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Democrats Nominate Twelve Candidates for Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice; Groundbreaking Slate Reflects Diversity of Borough

August 5, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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The Judicial Convention of the Kings County Democratic Party, chaired by Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, convened successfully on Thursday evening to officially nominate twelve candidates to run on the party’s line in the 2022 election for Justice of the New York State Supreme Court.

Convening the Meeting: Robert Katz, Anthony Genovesi, Joe Bova, Jeff Feldman, Steve Richman, Jaime Williams

The Judicial Convention, which took place at the Marine Park Golf Course in southern Brooklyn, was a success, with delegates civically engaged in a fair and transparent process.

The convention followed Tuesday’s executive committee meeting, where the District Leaders met and endorsed the Party’s slate. Those in attendance at the executive committee meeting included Henry Butler, the Brooklyn Democratic Party Vice Chair; Party Law Chair Anthony Genovesi; Parliamentarian Rob Robinson; Party Advisor Jeff Feldman; former Party Chair Frank Seddio; and the District Leaders.

Delegates at the Judicial Convention.

The Democratic nominees are: Patria Frias-Colón, Cenceria P. Edwards, Cheryl J. Gonzales, Lorna J. McAllister, Aaron D. Maslow, Dweynie E. Paul, Susan Quirk, Robin K. Sheares, Ellen M. Spodek, Anne J. Swern, Richard Velasquez, and Craig S. Walker.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Judge Candidates at the Judicial Convention.

The slate of twelve judicial candidates will now appear in the November General Election in 2022.

This is the most diverse slate of judicial candidates to be nominated by the Party, with an unprecedented number of Black women nominees.

“In the year that we saw the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Brooklyn Democratic Party is honored to break barriers by sending six Black women to the Supreme Court of New York State,” Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn stated. “With a diverse slate of twelve deeply qualified Democratic judicial nominees, Brooklyn has reached a historical win.”

Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodenyse Bichotte Hermelyn alongside other nominees.

The Democratic candidates also include groundbreaking “firsts.” Judge Dweynie E. Paul will become the first-ever Haitian-American NYS Supreme Court Justice in Kings County when presumably elected.

“Dweynie E. Paul has never wavered from her commitment to the community and administering fair and equitable justice,” stated Bichotte Hermelyn. “Paul, the first Haitian American Civil Court Judge in the State of New York, continues to break barriers–we’re honored to see the Judge nominated for the first Haitian American on the NYS Supreme Court.”

Paul thanked “all who dedicated their time and energy to the process because of the importance of justice.”

Patria Frias-Colón is the first Dominican-born judge ever elected in the history of Kings County. Frias-Colón was recently appointed as the Supervising Judge for Queens County Civil Court. From 2020 to the present, she has served in Kings County Civil Court.

“My immigrant background and Brooklyn upbringing has shaped my legal philosophy,” said Frias Colon, who thanked the Party and vowed to fight for justice for all.

Nominees Patria Frias-Colón and Dywenie E. Paul.

“Judge Frias-Colón began her career devoted to public service in the courts and continues to administer fair and equitable justice decades later. We’re honored to nominate this trailblazing and capable Judge,” Bichotte Hermelyn stated.

“Judge Sheares has received several awards as a result of her dedicated service to the community and is well-deservedly known as the ‘Community Judge.’ We’re pleased to see Sheares continue her service in the NYS Supreme Court,” added Bichotte Hermelyn. Sheares proudly stated that regardless of what others may think or say about where you come from, or what school you attend, if you believe it, you can achieve it–as evidenced by her win.

Judge Lorna J. McAllister, who is of Jamaican descent, is “also another diverse and well-deserved addition to the Supreme Court bench,” Bichotte Hermelyn said. Judge McAllister’s court experience began in 2008 when she worked as Senior Court Attorney for nominee Hon. Robin K. Sheares.

Honorable Cenceria P. Edwards is currently appointed Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Civil Term. “The Brooklyn Democratic Party is proud to nominate Edwards, a Black woman Justice with distinguished legal and judicial experience,” said Bichotte Hermelyn.

“The Brooklyn Democratic Party also congratulates Judge Cheryl Gonzales for her well-deserved nomination,” Bichotte Hermelyn stated. Cheryl Gonzales is currently the supervising judge for the New York City Housing Court of Kings County, serving since 2005 in that court.

Nominee Judge Anne J. Swern, who currently serves in the New York City Civil Court, previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn for over 35 years, appointed by four separately elected District Attorneys.

Swern is also a Professor at Brooklyn Law School, and Bichotte Hermelyn stated that “as a student there, I’ve witnessed her tenacity for equitable justice and am honored for her nomination,” said Bichotte Hermelyn. “The Brooklyn Democratic Party is proud to bring Justice Swerne’s impressive track record and immense, diverse experience to the State’s highest court.”

“I’m humbled by the support of the Party Chair, the Vice Chair and all of the Executive Committee, who all unanimously endorsed me,” said Judge Swern.

Judge Swern speaking after being nominated.

Aaron D. Maslow, is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community and has over 40 years of experience as an attorney, including having served as an arbitrator for the last 20 years. He has practiced in the field of election law, representing numerous candidates from a diverse political spectrum. His clients have included retired State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, now-Councilman Lincoln Restler, State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and Diana Richardson, and now-Congresswoman Grace Meng, to name just a few. Mr. Maslow helped diversify the judiciary by representing landmark candidates: the first openly lesbian and gay male attorneys elected to judgeships in Brooklyn, and the first Muslim attorney elected to a judgeship in New York State. Mr. Maslow has also spoken up against harassment of women and LGBTQ+ colleagues. He has published articles in Kashrus Magazine, a publication geared to the adherence to kosher food practices.

“Aaron Maslow brings a wealth of legal experience to the Supreme Court bench. It is not just his forty years of practice as an attorney, but his impeccable writing skills displayed in his having written 10,000 arbitration decisions,” said Bichotte Hermelyn. “Brooklyn is fortunate to have him join our court system.”

“12 years ago someone called me up and said she was running for office and now she is the Party Chair,” Maslow said. “I thank all of you for participating in the Democratic process—it works.”

Democratic judicial nominees and Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodenyse Bichotte Hermelyn celebrating.

Craig S. Walker, Acting Justice of the Youth Part of the Kings County Supreme Court (Criminal Term), is “a Black veteran who has dedicated his life to serving our country and delivering justice for Brooklynites,” the County Party Chair continued. “Recently, for the past four years, Walker has administered fair and equitable justice for juveniles in criminal court, and the Party congratulates his well-deserved nomination.”

Craig S. Walker is the acting Justice of the Youth Part of the Kings County Supreme Court.

“It’s been a long journey going from a kid from Brooklyn to going to the Supreme Court,” said Justice Walker, who thanked the Party leadership and said, “it’s important that our Judges reflect the diversity of the borough.”

Judge Susan Quirk is an elected Kings County Civil Court Judge currently serving in Family Court. Quirk, who started her career in public service in 1998 as a paralegal for the Kings County DA Office, “has shown extreme tenacity for public service and fair administration of the law,” said Bichotte Hermelyn. “Judge Quirk is not only capable, but extremely involved in her community, and will be a perfect addition to the NYS Supreme Court bench.”

Democratic Nominee Judge Susan Quirk and Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Two of the nominees are Supreme Court incumbents running for another term: Hon. Richard Velasquez and Hon. Ellen Spodek.

Incumbent nominee Justice Richard Velasquez – who began serving in the Kings County Supreme Court (Civil) in 2009 – “has devoted his life to public service and continually ensures that all who appear before him have fair and equitable access to the Justice System,” Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said.

Incumbents Justice Ellen Spodek and Justice Richard Velasquez.

“I am truly honored to receive another nomination for the bench and promise to keep my unwavering support for justice,” Velasquez said.

Incumbent nominee Justice Ellen Spodek was elected to the Supreme Court in 2009 and served as Acting Administrative Judge in 2020.

“Spodek has steadfastly administered justice fairly and equitably for Brooklynites for decades and the Brooklyn Democratic Party is proud to nominate her for re-election,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.

The Supreme Court has both civil and criminal jurisdiction. The court handles civil cases at the trial level where the amount in dispute is in excess of $50,000. Its criminal jurisdiction extends to trials where defendants are charged with felonies.

“The nominees have proven track records of progressive judicial and courtroom achievements and will continue to help bring fairness and impartiality to the courts. I’m ecstatic to see these groundbreaking nominations happen under my leadership, and I’m confident Brooklyn’s judicial system will remain in extremely capable hands when the nominees are elected in November,” concluded Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn.

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