Summer court internships turns into a decade-long tradition: Welcome to “Camp Quinones”

August 11, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The halls of Kings County’s Supreme Court are no stranger to the hustle and bustle of legal proceedings. However, every summer since 2012, these halls have been graced by the eager steps and inquisitive minds of young students ranging from high schoolers to law school trainees.

The reason? They are all handpicked interns of Judge Joanne Quinones, an acting Supreme Court Justice in Kings County.

This summer’s interns (from left): Hyun Ji (Tammy) Jung, Kayla Ruano-Lumpris, Aneesa Sheriff, Hon. Joanne D. Quiñones, Principal Law Clerk Ronald Cosme, Jr., Paola Linares, Ryan Groneman and Layah Jones. Not pictured were Camerian Williams and Danny Weng.

Judge Quinones’ passion for mentoring has only intensified over the years until she had groups of young students accompanying her throughout the court during summer months.

Kelly Pelaez (left), the woman who coined the phrase “Camp Quinones.”

It was during one of these summers that court employee Kelly Pelaez, now retired, casually referred to this group as “Camp Quinones.” The name, intended as an offhand remark, was so apt that it has since become synonymous with Judge Quinones’ annual internship program.

The heartwarming tradition does not end with the summer. As a testament to the profound impact Judge Quinones has on these students, every summer culminates in the “Camp Quinones Reunion.” It’s an event eagerly anticipated by past interns, and the lineage now extends over a decade.

Judge Quinones explained to the Eagle that mentorship is paramount in her career because she feels like she was unlikely to have made it to her position in life and would not without the help of her own mentors.

Camp Quinones continues to grow each year, and former interns keep coming back every summer to celebrate with the judge.

This year’s reunion was a festive affair. Judge Quinones went the extra mile, providing dinner, snacks and a plethora of goodies for everyone to savor. The interns, ever-grateful, ensured it was an evening to remember.

“In total there were nine interns throughout the course of two months, so there were a lot of young people in the chambers,” remarked Kayla Ruano-Lumpris, a high school student from this year’s batch of interns. “We’re especially grateful to Judge Quinones and Ronald (Cosme) for being such guiding lights and mentors during this time.”

From left: Kayla Wheeler, Esq., Kamaya Benjamin, Tanzema Fazal and Aneesa Sheriff.

Her gratitude was palpable as she added, “I’m only in high school, so I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I’m so grateful for this experience.”

From left: Jasmine Valle, Richard Velasquez, Jessica Orellana, and Leticia Escobar, present Hon. Joanne Quinones, center in white, with her trophy.

The evening’s highlight was a heartfelt gesture from the interns. While they couldn’t screen it at the reunion, they had painstakingly curated a compilation of videos from interns spanning the years, a tribute to their beloved mentor. This was not the end of the surprises. The pièce de résistance was a trophy presented to Judge Quinones: “Our Wonder Woman Judge Quinones,” it read.

Isaiah Jones and Judge Quinones.
Judge Quinones and Olive Esser, a future intern and the daughter of former intern Peter Esser.
Kemar Hermitt and Betsey Jean-Jacques, president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild.
Attorneys Ana Ramirez (left) and Sebastian Blanco (left).
From left: Richard Velasquez, Jr., Stephanie Corrales, Jessica Orellana, Hon. Joanne Quinones, Estefani Rodriguez, Jasmine Valle and Leticia Escobar.

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