The Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic County Party’s Judicial Convention convened successfully on Thursday evening to officially nominate 12 judges to run on the party’s line in the 2022 election for open bench seats in Kings County’s New York State Supreme Court.
The party said in a statement released on Friday, which was first published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, that the Judicial Convention, which took place at Marine Park Golf Course in southern Brooklyn, was “a success, with delegates civically engaged in a fair and transparent process.”
The convention followed Tuesday’s executive committee meeting, where the District Leaders met and endorsed the party’s slate.
Those in attendance at the executive committee meeting included Henry Butler, the Brooklyn Democratic Party vice chair; Party Law Chair Anthony Genovesi; Parliamentarian Rob Robinson; Party Advisor Jeff Feldman; former Party Chair Frank Seddio; and the District Leaders.
The Democratic nominees are: Patria Frias-Colón, Cenceria P. Edwards, Cheryl Gonzales, Lorna J. McAllister, Aaron D. Maslow, Dweynie E. Paul, Susan Quirk, Robin K. Sheares, Ellen Spodek, Richard Velasquez, Anne Swern and Craig S. Walker.
The slate of 12 judicial candidates will now appear in the November General Election in 2022.
“This is the most diverse slate of judicial candidates to be nominated by the Party, with an unprecedented number of Black women nominees,” said the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said: “In the year that we saw the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the Brooklyn Democratic Party is honored to break barriers by sending six Black women to the Supreme Court of New York State.
“With a diverse slate of 12 deeply qualified Democratic judicial nominees, Brooklyn has reached a historical win,” she said.
The Democratic candidates also include groundbreaking firsts. Judge Dweynie E. Paul will become the first-ever Haitian-American New York State Supreme Court Justice in Kings County when presumably elected.
Judge Paul thanked “all who dedicated their time and energy to the process because of the importance of justice.”
Judge Frias-Colón is the first Dominican Republic-born judge ever elected in the history of Kings County. She was recently appointed as the Supervising Judge for Queens County Civil Court. From 2020 to the present, she has served in Kings County Civil Court.
“My immigrant background and Brooklyn upbringing has shaped my legal philosophy,” said Frias Colon, who thanked the party and vowed to fight for justice for all.
Judge Sheares proudly stated that regardless of what others may think or say about where you come from, or what school you attend, “if you believe it, you can achieve it” – as evidenced by her win.
Judge McAllister, who is of Jamaican descent, is “also another diverse and well-deserved addition to the Supreme Court bench,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.
Judge McAllister’s court experience began in 2008, when she worked as Senior Court Attorney for nominee Hon. Robin K. Sheares.
Hon. Cenceria P. Edwards is currently appointed Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Civil Term.
“The Brooklyn Democratic Party is proud to nominate Edwards, a Black woman justice with distinguished legal and judicial experience,” said Bichotte Hermelyn.
Judge Gonzales is currently the supervising judge for the New York City Housing Court of Kings County, serving since 2005 in that court.
Nominee Judge Swern, who currently serves in the New York City Civil Court, previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn for over 35 years, appointed by four separately elected District Attorneys.
“I’m humbled by the support of the Party Chair, the Vice Chair and all of the Executive Committee, who all unanimously endorsed me,” said Judge Swern.
Maslow is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community and has over 40 years of experience as an attorney, including having served as an arbitrator for the last 20 years. He has practiced in the field of election law, representing numerous candidates from a diverse political spectrum.
The Brooklyn Democratic Party said Maslow helped diversify the judiciary by representing landmark candidates: the first openly lesbian and gay male attorneys elected to judgeships in Brooklyn, and the first Muslim attorney elected to a judgeship in New York State.
Maslow has also spoken up against harassment of women and LGBTQ+ colleagues, the Brooklyn Democratic Party said.
Incumbent nominee Justice Velasquez – who began serving in the Kings County Supreme Court (Civil) in 2009 – “has devoted his life to public service and continually ensures that all who appear before him have fair and equitable access to the Justice System,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.
The other incumbent nominee, Justice Spodek, was elected to the Supreme Court (Civil) in 2009 and became Acting Administrative Judge in 2020.
The Brooklyn Democratic Party said the Supreme Court has both civil and criminal jurisdiction. The court handles civil cases at the trial level, where the amount in dispute is in excess of $50,000. Its criminal jurisdiction extends to trials where defendants are charged with felonies.
“Congratulations to all the nominees, who have proven track records of progressive judicial and courtroom achievements and will continue to help bring fairness and impartiality to the courts,” Bichotte Hermelyn said.
“I’m ecstatic to see these groundbreaking nominations happen under my leadership, and I’m confident Brooklyn’s judicial system will remain in extremely capable hands when the nominees are elected in November,” she added.