Chief Judge Rowan Wilson takes part in Brooklyn Court’s Diversity Fair

October 30, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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Last year, the Second Judicial District Equal Justice Committee hosted its inaugural Diversity Fair inside the Kings County Supreme Court on Jay Street. It had more than 20 fraternal organizations and local bar associations inside the courtroom hallways as a way to showcase the diversity within the legal community here in Brooklyn. It was attended by more than 75 court employees and judges and was considered a big success.

This year, it was more than twice the size with over 200 people in attendance, including Chief Judge Rowan Wilson, who gave the keynote address.

“I love Judge Quinones,” Chief Judge Wilson said laughing when he recalled how she partially tricked him into giving the keynote speech.

Judge Joanne Quinones admits that she only asked Hon. Rowan Wilson to give brief remarks of about 1-2 minutes before letting him know that he was Wednesday’s keynote speaker. Photo: Rob Abruzzese

Formed in November 2021, the mission of the Second Judicial District Equal Justice Committee aligns closely with the essence of the fair. Chaired by Supreme Court Justice Joanne D. Quiñones, the committee includes a cross-section of legal professionals: Daniel Alessandrino, Chief Clerk for Criminal Matters; Ronald Cosme, Jr., Esq., Principal Law Clerk; Sergeant Shaqwan Gardner; Supreme Court Justice Richard J. Montelione; Lissette Morales, Senior Court Analyst; Kiyoko Panzella, Senior Court Reporter; Chief David Salazar; Hajin Suh, Esq., Principal Law Clerk; Charles Small, Esq., Chief Clerk for Civil Matters; Nancy T. Sunshine, County Clerk and Commissioner of Jurors; and Taneka S. Teel, Associate Court Clerk.

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

The committee is charged with fostering a bias-free environment, strengthening court services, building community partnerships, and promoting diversity in hiring practices, among other responsibilities.

Chief Judge Rowan Wilson was in Brooklyn on Wednesday, October 25 for Diversity Awareness Month. The Second Judicial District Equal Justice Committee hosted its second annual Unity in Diversity Fair in the Kings County Supreme Court that featured a keynote speech by Chief Judge Wilson. Photo: Robert Abruzzese

Several judges also took part in the event, notably Hon. Matthew J. D’Emic, Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters; Hon. Lawrence Knipel, Administrative Judge for Civil Matters; Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts; Hon. Edwina G. Richardson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives; and Hon. Norman St. George, First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge.

Both justices Kaplan and Richardson spoke about indigenous Americans during their speeches. Richardson spoke about the Munsee tribe and Lenape nation and how “Land Acknowledgements” can be controversial, but are important.

When introducing Chief Judge Wilson, Judge Quinones claimed he had excellent rapport and collaborative leadership, great outlook and vision, praised his wit and intelligence, explained how he is always there, and is a nice and genuine person.

“Today we join in celebrating our different ethnicities, cultures, heritages, experiences, abilities, and other attributes that make up our world,” Judge Quinones said.

Not just a ceremonial gathering, the Diversity Fair aims to be an engine of real change in the legal community. Ronald Cosme, Jr., and Lissette Morales, Co-Chairs of the Unity in Diversity Fair Sub-Committee, spearheaded the acknowledgment of dignitaries and co-sponsoring organizations. Entertainment was provided by the Big Apple Leadership Academy for the Arts, adding a cultural layer to an event rooted in law and justice.

The Second Judicial District Equal Justice Committee intends for this annual fair to be more than just a moment of unity; it aims for it to be a catalyst for enduring change. The event’s success and growth in just one year signal promising strides toward a more inclusive legal landscape in Brooklyn and beyond.


The Big Apple Leadership Academy for the Arts provided the music for Wednesday’s event, Judge Knipel (background, left) approved. Photo: Rob Abruzzese
Committee members and speakers (from left to right): Shaqwan Gardner, Chief David Salazar, Lissette Morales, Ronald Cosme, Hon. Matthew D’Emic, Hon. Joanne Quinones, Hon. Rowan Wilson, Hon. Norman St. George, Hon. Deborah Kaplan, Hon. Lawrence Knipel and Hon. Edwina Richardson. Photo: Rob Abruzzese
Joseph Rosato, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, poses with Hon. Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, and Hon. Rowan Wilson, chief judge of the State of New York. Photo: Rob Abruzzese
President Yolanda Gaudagnoli and past president Christopher Caputo of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn. Photo: Rob Abruzzese
Members of the Brooklyn Bar Association, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and the LGBT Bar Association of New York, including Natoya McGhie (left) and Anthony Perrotto (back row). Photo: Rob Abruzzese
Guardians of the New York State Courts, Court Officer Kevin Carter and Court Officer Tawana Johnson, president and vice president, respectively. Photo: Rob Abruzzese
Lola Waterman and Carl Forbes, Jr., of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. Photo: Rob Abruzzese
Approximately 30 bar associations and fraternal organizations were represented at the Diversity Fair including members of the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York. Photo: Rob Abruzzese

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