A milestone moment: All-Latino bench to preside over Appellate Division in Brooklyn

August 31, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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In a historic move, Presiding Justice Hector LaSalle announced that on Tuesday, Sept. 5, for the first time in its history, the Appellate Division, Second Department will hear oral arguments before an all-Latino bench in the Court’s historic courtroom at 45 Monroe Place in Brooklyn.

The Appellate Division, Second Department is an intermediate appellate court hearing appeals from the trial courts in ten counties, representing more than half of the state’s population.

“I look forward to joining my colleagues on the bench on Tuesday, Sept. 5, as the Court marks this important milestone. I take great pride and honor in being part of this historic event,” said Presiding Justice LaSalle.

Justice LaSalle will be joined by Justice Betsy Barros, Justice Helen Voutsinas, and Justice Lourdes Ventura.

Justice LaSalle, who joined the Court as an Associate Justice in 2014 and was designated its Presiding Justice in 2021, will preside over the bench that day. Justice Barros joined the court in 2014 and has served as an Associate Justice on the Constitutional Bench since 2022; Justice Voutsinas joined the Court in 2022; and Justice Ventura joined the court earlier this year.

The arguments will be live-streamed starting at 10:00 a.m. via the court’s website.

Justice Voutsinas is the first Dominican Judge appointed to the Second Department, Appellate Division, marking a historic moment for the Dominican legal community. Justice Barros, the daughter of Chilean immigrants, was the first Latina woman elected to the Kings County Supreme Court bench and later elevated to Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. Justice Ventura, a lifelong Queens resident and mother, is a former Supreme Court Justice of the State of New York in the 11th Judicial District and was the first Latina to serve as President of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association.

Hon. Reinaldo Rivera and Hon. Joseph Zayas are two other jurists who have recently sat on this bench, however, Justice Rivera has retired as of July 1, 2023, and Justice Zayas has served as the Chief Administrative Judge since May.

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