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Brooklyn Democrats endorse 5 judges for election

Involves community input in the process

February 22, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A transformative new addition to the Brooklyn Democratic Party judicial election process has been put in place by the official Democratic County Committee. It was utilized with Tuesday’s announcement of endorsements by Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and the Executive Committee of the Kings County Democratic County Committee, who backed four judicial candidates for election for Civil Court, Kings County, and one for Surrogate Court, Kings County.

Four of the endorsements are for Civil Court, Kings County:

  • Marva Brown, Esq.
  • Monique Holaman, Esq.
  • Turquoise Haskin, Esq.
  • Betsey Jean-Jacques, Esq.

And one was for the Surrogate Court: Hon. Bernard J. Graham (who is currently an Acting Surrogate Court Judge). 

The Democratic candidates were endorsed by an overwhelming majority of District Leaders at Friday’s Executive Committee meeting to run for open bench seats in June’s Primary Election, the Party said in a statement. 

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

Turquoise Haskin, Esq., endorsed for the Civil Court, Kings County. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Democrats

An Enhanced Endorsement Process for Qualified Candidates

The endorsements involved a large level of stakeholder input gathered at last week’s Candidate Community Forum, hosted by the Party’s newly-formed Ad-Hoc Judiciary Committee.

The Party’s new Ad-Hoc Judiciary Committee, composed of five Brooklyn District Leaders, aims to “positively transform the process,” says Committee Chair Dana Rachlin – by engaging the community at all levels in vital judicial elections.

These elections and nominations have a lasting impact on Brooklynites, but in heavily blue Brooklyn, voters typically have little knowledge of the nominees or endorsed candidates, many in the party have said.  

Marva Brown, Esq., endorsed for the Civil Court, Kings County. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Democrats

To effect change, The Party adopted a candidate forum with its Ad-Hoc Judiciary Committee, chaired by Dana Rachlin, District Leader (AD 50), that “allowed people most impacted by the criminal legal system to ask questions of the candidates and provide feedback to their District Leaders,” Rachlin said.

And fittingly, during Black History Month, the party was “proud to endorse four qualified women of color for Civil Court as we continue to help elect competent and diverse Judges,” said Bichotte Hermelyn.

A Run-Down On The Endorsed Candidates’ Vast Experience

Marva Brown has worked as a public defender for nearly 15 years. 

Monique Holaman has served as a Law Clerk for Kings County Supreme Court for over a decade.

Since 2009, Turquoise Haskin has served in the New York Unified Court System, currently the Principal Law Clerk to Justice Carolyn E. Wade in Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term. 

Betsey Jean-Jacques currently serves as the Principal Law Clerk to the Hon. Francois Rivera in the Civil Term of Kings County Supreme Court, and is on the Board of Directors for the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association.

Monique Holaman, Esq., endorsed for the Civil Court, Kings County. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Democrats

Hon. Bernard Graham joined the bench in 2005 as an NYC Civil Court Judge, was elected as a Kings County Supreme Court Judge in 2013 and started serving as Acting Surrogate Court Judge this year to fill a vacancy.

Judges of the Civil Court are elected to serve terms of 10 years, and Kings County Surrogate Judge is an elected position with a 14-year term.

The judiciary committee makes recommendations gathered from the community to help district leaders decide on nominations. It’s an addition, not a replacement, to the Party’s Judicial Screening Committee – a committee of legal experts that first greenlights candidates based on judicial acumen. 

District Leaders Vital Role: Serving As Community Liaisons to Impact Judicial Elections 

The Ad-Hoc Judiciary Committee is comprised of Committee Chair Dana Rachlin (District Leader, 50th AD), and Committee Members Sarana Purcell (DL, 43rd AD), Jacqui Painter (DL, 51st AD), Kenesha Traynham-Cooper (DL, 56th AD) and Michael Boomer (DL, 57th AD).

To put it bluntly, Dana Rachlin said the Committee’s goal is to have some voters “stop going to vote without knowing the judges on the ballot.”

This new committee adds another important layer to the judicial election process, says Sarana Purcell, by “bringing about greater awareness and education on the judicial selection process, so we can raise voters’ awareness and participation.”

Betsey Jean-Jacques, endorsed for the Civil Court, Kings County. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Democrats

The enhanced process “ensures the Party is backing culturally competent Judges to serve the needs of all Brooklynites fairly and impartially,” Bichotte Hermelyn concluded. 

“We’re pleased to promote these candidates who follow a progressive approach to justice and have the experience and expertise to serve our constituents,” Bichotte Hermelyn concluded.

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