Farewell to a trailblazer: Hinds-Radix reflects on historic tenure as Corporation Counsel

June 3, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Mayor Eric Adams' top attorney, announced her resignation from the City Hall Law Department in an email to staff on Thursday. Hinds-Radix will officially step down on June 1, with Muriel Goode-Trufant temporarily filling her role. Photo by Robert Abruzzese
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Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the top attorney in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, announced her resignation from the City Hall Law Department in an email to staff on Thursday. Her departure marks the latest in a series of high-level exits during a time of significant legal challenges for the mayoral administration.

Hinds-Radix will officially step down on June 1, and Muriel Goode-Trufant, the Law Department’s first assistant corporation counsel since February 2023, will temporarily fill her role. 

The timing of Goode-Trufant’s interim tenure remains uncertain, particularly as the City Council evaluates the potential nomination of Mastro.

Rumors of Hinds-Radix’s departure had circulated for weeks, especially after news emerged that Randy Mastro, a controversial lawyer, was being considered as her replacement. Mastro’s appointment would require City Council approval, which had met resistance from several council members.

In her farewell email obtained by the Brooklyn Eagle, Hinds-Radix did not express bitterness despite widespread speculation that she was ousted due to disagreements with Mayor Adams and his senior advisers. 

Instead, Hinds-Radix praised her colleagues, saying,I thank you for your exceptional contributions, which have helped the Law Department remain a beacon of public service.She also reflected on her historic role as the first Caribbean-born woman and the second woman of color to serve as Corporation Counsel.

Hinds-Radix, a former justice of the Appellate Division, highlighted several achievements during her tenure, including securing salary and merit pay increases to address hiring and retention issues, successfully implementing a bar exam retaker program, and creating new legal divisions for Ethics & Compliance and Risk Management. She noted that her team’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and the migrant crisis, which saw the arrival of nearly 200,000 migrants since spring 2022, were particularly impactful.

Her departure comes as Mayor Adams’ administration faces multiple legal investigations. Federal investigators are examining ties between Adams’ campaign and Turkey, resulting in the seizure of his cell phones. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has indicted the former Buildings Commissioner in an ongoing investigation, and the city’s Department of Investigation is probing top aides Winnie Greco and Tim Pearson.

Adams has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with these investigations. However, the scrutiny has cast a shadow over his administration, making Hinds-Radix’s exit and the potential appointment of Mastro even more significant.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Adams’ chief adviser, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, claimed that the administration had delayed Mastro’s nominationout of respectfor the City Council, which is currently focused on budget negotiations. However, multiple newspaper reports indicate that the mayor’s team has been privately meeting with council members to discuss Mastro’s potential nomination. Deputy Council Speaker Diana Ayala and others have reportedly refused these meetings.

Hinds-Radix commended the department’s efforts in various legal battles, including securing housing for migrants, defending the city’s budget, and supporting economic development projects. 

She concluded her email by expressing pride in the Law Department’s work, stating,Every day, we have helped the city deliver on its key mission of furthering public safety, safeguarding taxpayer dollars, rebuilding our economy, and improving the quality of life for New Yorkers.” 

Hinds-Radix has had a distinguished career in the New York State judiciary. 

Appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November 2012, she served as an Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department. Before this, she was the Administrative Judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, from May 2009 to November 2012 and was elected Justice of the New York State Supreme Court in 2004, with re-election in 2018. Hinds-Radix also served as a Judge in the New York City Civil and Criminal Courts from 2002 to 2004. 

Before her judicial appointments, she worked extensively in various capacities at District Council 37, including chief counsel for the Immigration Program. A graduate of Howard University School of Law, she has been admitted to practice in the New York State Bar and federal courts since 1985. 

Hinds-Radix has received numerous accolades, including the Gold Crown of Merit from the governor-general of Barbados and the New York State Bar Association’s Diversity Trailblazer Award. She has been an active member of numerous professional and civic organizations.

Muriel Goode-Trufant, a New York City Law Department veteran with over three decades of experience, will temporarily take over as corporation counsel following Sylvia Hinds-Radix's resignation, effective June 1, 2024. Photo courtesy of the NYC Law Department
Muriel Goode-Trufant, a New York City Law Department veteran with over three decades of experience, will temporarily take over as corporation counsel following Sylvia Hinds-Radix’s resignation, effective June 1, 2024.
Photo courtesy of the NYC Law Department

Muriel Goode-Trufant: Acting Corporation Counsel of New York City

Goode-Trufant’s tenure at the New York City Law Department began in 1991, where she started as an attorney in the General Litigation Division. Over the years, she has held various significant roles, including assistant chief of the division and the agency’s EEO Officer. She became chief of the Special Federal Litigation Division before being appointed as the managing attorney in 2015, a position she held until February 2023.

In February 2023, Goode-Trufant was named the first assistant Corporation Counsel by then-Corporation Counsel Hinds-Radix. In this capacity, she served as a key legal advisor to the corporation counsel, the mayor and other city officials, overseeing several legal divisions and managing the operations of the agency’s 1,600-person legal team.

Goode-Trufant has been instrumental in litigating and resolving numerous class actions and high-profile cases. She played a pivotal role in creating the Special Federal Litigation Division, leading to litigation successes for the City. 

Before joining the City’s Law Department, Goode-Trufant was an associate at the Philadelphia law firm Cohen, Shapiro, Polisher, Shiekman & Cohen. She is a graduate of Temple University School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania and has received numerous legal accolades, including the Law Department’s highest honor, the Corporation Counsel’s Award for Distinguished Legal Service in 2011.

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