Summer interns welcomed at Kings County Courts: Carrying forward Izetta Johnson’s legacy

July 7, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The Kings County court system held a welcome ceremony on Wednesday, July 5, ushering in more than 50 high school and college students for summer internships at the Supreme Court located at 320 Jay St.

Although the orientation took place at the Supreme Court, the interns will be assigned roles throughout the court system, reflecting the expansive nature of the program.

From left: Louis Henry, Leah Richardson, Kevin Carter, Kerry Warfield, Karen Massey Shaw, Janaa Bryant, Hon. Robin Sheares, Nicole Smith, Roderick Randall, Maria Ramos, Sheldon Charles, Hon. Deborah Dowling and Danny Taveras.
The court’s summer interns take part in a six-week program that kicked off with an orientation ceremony on Wednesday, July 5.

Aimed at nurturing future professionals for the court system and beyond, the program focuses on equipping students with skills applicable to various professional jobs. Over the course of a six-week internship, the students will participate in workshops covering diverse topics such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, and financial literacy.

An essential part of the orientation involves court employees, ranging from judges and legal secretaries to IT professionals and court officers. Each takes a turn to introduce themselves, outline their role, explain their professional journey, and share the qualifications needed for their respective roles.

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Daniel Alessandrino, chief clerk of the Supreme Court, Criminal Term.
Court Officer Sheldon Charles.

Originally christened the Summer Youth Employment Program, it has since been renamed the Izetta Johnson Internship Empowerment Program in tribute to its founder. Johnson, who served the court system for 35 years before her retirement and subsequent passing, initiated the program in 1989. Known for her dedication to student mentorship, Johnson’s unwavering commitment ensured that no interested student was turned away, leading to some years with more than 75 interns.

Reflecting on the uniqueness of Johnson’s initiative, Judge Robin Sheares, who once evaluated court internship programs across New York City, noted the superior quality of the program under Johnson’s leadership. It not only dwarfed other initiatives in terms of size, but also outshone them in instructional quality and active participation from court employees.

Court Officer Maria Ramos.
IT Manager Kerry Warfield.

Justice Deborah Dowling now shoulders the responsibility of running the program, following the brief tenure of Charmaine Johnson, who retired recently. Despite her demanding role in the Appellate Division, Second Department — the largest of the four Appellate Divisions handling almost half the cases in the state — Justice Dowling has devoted considerable time and energy to the internship program. Her commitment ensures that Izetta Johnson’s legacy of empowering students through practical, on-the-job learning continues in the Kings County court system.

Hon. Deborah Dowling, justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department.
Retired volunteers (pictured clockwise from top left): Rosalyn Conyers, Marie Nyman, Hon. Deborah Dowling and Karen Whitney.

Over the next six weeks, the interns will meet with members of the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, go on tours of the courts, continue learning the various jobs throughout the court system, and take a fire safety class. In the final week, they will go head-to-head in an interview competition where skills that they learned in the workshops are put to the test.

Hon. John Hecht and Hon. Claudia Daniels-DePeyster.

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