New leadership and members appointed to NY’s Failla LGBTQ commission

November 16, 2023 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Hon. Javier Vargas, newly appointed member of the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission and a pioneering figure in the New York State Court of Claims.Photos: Robert Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle
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Chief Judge Rowan Wilson announced on Wednesday updates to the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission, appointing new leaders and members to bolster its advocacy for LGBTQ issues within the legal community.

Hon. Grace M. Hanlon, Supreme Court justice, Eighth Judicial District, will serve as the new upstate co-chair, succeeding Hon. Joanne M. Winslow, and will join downstate co-chair Hon. Karen Lupuloff, Supervising Judge, Family Court, New York County.

Newly appointed members include Hon. Seth M. Marnin and Hon. Javier E. Vargas, both recently confirmed as Court of Claims judges. Notably, Hon. Vargas and Hon. Franc Perry, both previously assigned to Kings County Family Court, will bring their rich experience to the commission.

Hon. Franc Perry, a distinguished member of the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission.
Hon. Franc Perry, a distinguished member of the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission.

“I am delighted to announce the appointments of these three outstanding jurists to the Failla Commission, whose work is so crucial to the court system’s efforts to ensure equal access to justice and foster a diverse, inclusive work environment,” Chief Judge Wilson said. “I am confident that Justice Hanlon, together with Judge Lupuloff, will lead the commission further along that critically important path and am deeply grateful to the Commission’s members for their hard work and commitment toward that end.”

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

The Failla Commission, established in December 2016, has been a dynamic force in addressing LGBTQ concerns in the courts and the legal profession. It strives for equal participation and access for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

The commission’s initiatives range from enhancing judicial diversity to ensuring fair treatment of LGBTQ litigants in the courts. Collaboration with LGBTQ advocacy groups, bar associations and community organizations remains a key aspect of its mission to foster a more equitable and supportive environment.

Justice Hanlon, the first openly LGBTQ justice elected to the Supreme Court in the Eighth Judicial District, brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to LGBTQ visibility and advocacy. Judge Marnin, recognized as New York’s first transgender judge and the first transgender man to serve in such a capacity in the U.S., previously held various influential roles in legal education and civil rights.

Judge Vargas, who served in the Family Court in Kings County before his elevation, became the first openly gay and Latino judge on the Court of Claims.

Adding to the esteemed roster of the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission is Meredith R. Miller, a distinguished legal educator and advocate.

Professor Miller, who joined the Touro Law Center faculty in 2006, has been recognized for her exceptional teaching in areas such as Contracts, Business Organizations and Employment Law, earning the accolade of “Professor of the Year” twice. Professor Miller has played a vital role in the LGBT legal community as a past president of LeGaL, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, and remains actively involved in its foundation.

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