Brooklyn celebrates James Blain’s remarkable 33-year journey in the court system

July 24, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn legal community said goodbye to Deputy County Clerk James Blain at his retirement party after he spent more than 33 years within the court system, including the last seven years in his current role.

The party took place last Wednesday night at El Caribe in Mill Basin. There were over 100 people in attendance at the party including some of the Borough’s biggest names, like Hon. Frank Seddio, Ravi Batra, Steve Cohn, Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Craig Schatzman, and, of course, the County Clerk, Hon. Nancy Sunshine.

After 33 years in the court system, dozens of James Blain’s family, friends and colleagues attended his retirement party at El Caribe to say goodbye.
From left: Charles Ritz, Craig Schatzman, Steve Cohn, James Blain and Kali Blain.

“It was a wonderful time and a well deserved send off for a man who dedicated his life to the people of Brooklyn,” Schatzman said. “His family’s gain is definitely Brooklyn’s loss.”

It was a mostly informal event, however, Blain’s friends, family, and colleagues weren’t going to let him leave the Kings County Clerk’s Office without saying goodbye so one by one, Judge Seddio, Batra, Cohn, Judge Hinds-Radix, Commissioner Sunshine, and Schatzman shared a few words about their dear friend.

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Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the NYC Corporation Counsel, embraces Blain after her speech.

James Blain, born in 1963 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, migrated to Brooklyn, New York with his family when he was seven years old. Growing up in the Panamanian neighborhood of Crown Heights, he attended Holy Spirit / Saint Theresa Catholic School and Chelsea Vocational High School. He later earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Brooklyn College.

Blain’s introduction to the court system was not conventional; he began working as a runner in a personal injury law firm, where an unfair criticism triggered his interest in public service. This experience prompted him to pursue a career within the court system where he could better serve the public.

Starting as a temporary Assistant Court Analyst in the New York State Unified Court System, Blain quickly rose through the ranks. He became an Administrator in the Kings County Clerk’s Office in 1998 and made history in 2017 as the first Haitian-born Deputy County Clerk.

From left: Hon. Reginald Boddie, Hon. Ingrid Joseph, and James Blain.
Craig Schatzman (left) and James Blain.

Louis Fiorillo, Blain’s mentor, recognized his passion for public service and shaped him into a keen listener. In 2008, Blain received the prestigious Nathan R. Sobel Award from the Brooklyn Bar Association and, in 2019, the Association awarded him the Diversity Award for promoting diversity within the court system. Blain was also honored during the Caribbean American Heritage Month by the Kings County Courts in 2022.

Over the years, Blain forged an inseparable partnership with Craig Schatzman, with whom he shared a mutual respect and a shared vision for public service. After serving for 33 years, Blain is set to retire, leaving a legacy of dedicated service. In his retirement, Blain plans to volunteer for the Legal Aid Society, maintaining his commitment to serving the public. His journey, from the streets of Haiti to the halls of the Kings County Clerk’s Office, serves as an inspiration for many in the Brooklyn community and beyond.

From left: Gregory T. Cerchione, Craig Schatzman, James Blain, and Gregory J. Cerchione.
Hon. Nancy Sunshine, the County Clerk, Clerk of the Supreme Court, and Commissioner of Jurors.
From left: Dino Mastropietro, Hon. Raymi Ramseur-Usher, Hon. Maria Aragona, Hon. Inga O’Neale, Public Administrator Javier Ortiz, and Lisette Morales.
Ravi Batra shares some stories about Blain.
From left: Hon. Brian Gottlieb, Hon. Lisa Ottley, and Hon. Edward King.

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