Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley Wednesday night joined a plethora of jurists, family members, friends and supporters in paying glowing tributes to former prominent Caribbean-born jurist Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix, now serving as New York City’s new corporation counsel.
In an historic vote, New York City Council voted unanimously, 51-0, late last month to confirm Barbadian-born Hinds-Radix as the first Caribbean-born woman to serve as corporation counsel in New York City’s history.
As Corporation Counsel, Hinds-Radix, whose last position was Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, is leading the City’s Law Department, which is primarily responsible for providing legal representation to the City, the Mayor, other elected officials, and City agencies in all affirmative and defensive civil litigation.
In early January, newly-elected New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed Justice Hinds-Radix as the City’s corporation counsel.
Justice Hinds-Radix, who was appointed Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department in 2012, conducted the mayor’s swearing-in ceremony, on Jan. 2, 2022, at the Times Square New Year’s Celebration in midtown Manhattan.
In an 1 ½-hour virtual reception, organized by the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Lawyers Association (CALA), of which Hinds-Radix was co-founder and first and currently only president, Mottley said she was honored to join in the celebration of a true daughter of the Barbadian soil.
“My heart is filled with joy,” said Mottley, also a lawyer by training, in a very terse tribute, referring to Hinds-Radix new appointment. “You’re very deserving. You’re the epitome of a proud Barbadian.
“Your recent appointment is the icing on the cake,” added the prime minister, noting, with amazement, that, despite her very busy schedule, Hinds-Radix still finds time on Saturday mornings to tutor children in Brooklyn in mathematics and English.
“You’re a fitting example of those who find time to give back,” Mottley continued. “Your country and your people are so proud of you.”
Justice Hector LaSalle, the presiding justice of New York’s reportedly busiest appellate court, the Appellate Division, Second Department, said he would not have been appointed to the position “if it wasn’t for Sylvia.”
“She’s a benevolent person, but she’s a very brilliant person, very persuasive,” he said. “She’s always professional; she’s a scholar.
“The opinion she wrote in 2014 is an outstanding piece of scholarship,” Justice LaSalle added.
In People v. Hamilton, decided on Jan. 15, 2014 by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Department, Justice Hinds-Radix, writing for the majority, vacated the Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court’s (trial court) judgment against the defendant, Hamilton, which denied, without a hearing, the defendant’s motion to vacate a judgment of the same court, rendered Jul. 12, 1993, convicting him of murder in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.
“She’ll bring to the Corporation Counsel a calm,” Justice La Salle said. “Knowing that someone imbued with so much responsibility, but knowing that she’s someone of faith, Mayor Adams could not have appointed a better person.”
In her tribute, Justice Ruth Shillingford, a Dominican-born justice in Kings Country Supreme Court, pointed to the Hamilton case, saying that “that’s the legacy that Justice Hinds-Radix left.
“Justice Hinds-Radix has never shied away from dealing with justice, never shied away from the community,” said Justice Shillingford before presenting Hinds-Radix with a hand bag, as a gift from CALA.
“She is a hard-working woman, but she’s also a very fashionable woman,” she added, stating that “it’s, indeed, an honor to make this presentation to Justice Hinds-Radix.”
Accomplished Brooklyn trial lawyer Angélicque M. Moreno, told the ceremony – presided over by Justice L. Priscilla Hall, a retired associate justice on the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, and Hinds-Radix’s nephew, Danny Morris – said Hinds-Radix has been “a mentor and a friend.”
“She believes that we must lift each other up,” Moreno said. “As an attorney and as a judge, she has conducted herself with integrity and dignity.
“Justice Hinds-Radix has been a trail-blazer all her life,” she added. “She’s an example for all others. She’s raised the bar.
“She advises all lawyers to learn from our mistakes,” Moreno continued. “Treat colleagues with respect, be prepared – doing the work ahead of time. I want to thank you for all that you have done.”
Brooklyn attorney Yvette Hinds-Wills, CALA’s vice president, said the group has, over the years, seen Hinds-Radix “ascend the ladder.”
“What an amazing and unequal achievement this is (Corporation Counsel),” she said. “As inaugural president of CALA, she’s been an effective leader.
“On a personal note, you have been a patient lawyer,” Hinds-Wills told Hinds-Radix. “CALA wants to thank all 250-plus attendees. CALA salutes you and wishes you success in your appointment.”
Speaking from Barbados, the Rev. Garvey Ince, Sylvia Hinds-Radix’s childhood friend, said she has “always been considered the leader, excellent writer, excellent debater and very opinionated.
“You have been an excellent friend, a confidant,” Rev. Ince said. “You have made us proud. I know whatever you do, you have done your best.”
Hinds-Radix’s brother, Stephen Hinds, a former principal at Meyer Levin Intermediate School in Brooklyn and a consultant with New York City’s Board of Education, said: “It’s with a grateful heart that we come to celebrate a friend, one who embodies fairness.
“As the current patriarch of the family, I feel very humbled,” he said. “Sis. (sister), the family shares your accomplishments. We thank you for setting the bar high for your offspring and for Black and Brown children of this country.”
Hinds-Radix thanked the Almighty, as well as her family, colleagues, friends and supporters.
“I see the tremendous amount of work that has gone into this (ceremony),” she said. “I hope I can live up to your expectations.
“As I said every day, as I took the bench, I ask God that justice is done,” she added. “Make sure there’s somebody in your life that you can go to.
“I think the greatest gift was to have those three children, young ladies,” continued Hinds-Radix before turning to her husband, Dr. Joseph Radix, a Grenadian-born dentist, sitting next to her: “This incredible man, this is the wind beneath my wings. I thank you for putting up with me for 35-plus years.
“I thank you for this wonderful honor,” she told the ceremony.
Prior to her appointment to the Appellate Division, Justice Hinds-Radix served as administrative judge for Civil Matters in the Second Judicial District for three and a half years.
In her capacity as Administrative Judge, she oversaw both the New York State Supreme Court, Civil Term and the New York City Civil Court, which also encompasses the Housing Court of the City of New York.
Hinds-Radix was elected to the Supreme Court, Kings County in November of 2004, and served as a New York City Civil Court Judge, from 2002 through 2004, spending her first year in the Criminal Court of Kings County.
She began her legal career at District Council (DC) 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services, where she was a supervising attorney. DC 37 is the largest union representing municipal workers in New York City.
Justice Hinds-Radix earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts; her Master’s degree in political science from Long Island University in New York; and her Juris Doctorate (JD), law degree, from Howard University School of Law.
In addition to being admitted to practice law in the State of New York, Justice Hinds-Radix is also admitted to the United States Federal Court: Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
The Radixes and their three children – one of whom (Jovia) is a lawyer – reside in Brooklyn.