Jamaican-American attorney Janice Robinson wins judicial seat in Brooklyn in massive landslide

Janice Robinson, Esq.
Photo by TMezz Creative Group/Patricia Messeroux

Jamaican-American lawyer Janice Robinson Tuesday night won in a massive landslide one of two Civil Court Judge seats in Brooklyn’s 6th Municipal Court District in the New York Democratic Primary beating fellow Jamaican-American lawyer Kenneth Gayle in the two-way race.

According to New York City Board of Elections, with 98.51 percent of scanners reported, Robinson received 10, 820 votes, or 72.27 percent, to Gayle’s 3, 910 votes, or 26.12 percent. There were 241 write-in ballots, or 1.61 percent.

Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn resident Robinson, who has been a civil litigator for over 20 years, told Caribbean Life that she brings “a wealth of experience to the table.”

A lifelong Brooklynite, born to immigrant parents from Jamaica, Robinson said she got her first taste of public service work when she was “volun-TOLD” to help on her uncle’s campaign in the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn. Her uncle, former New York State Assemblyman Nick Perry, is now the United States Ambassador to Jamaica.

Robinson said she is also “service-minded”, and gives back to the community both through her work and as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first Black sorority.

As a civil litigator in Brooklyn, working for major insurance companies for over 20 years, Robinson said she has seen the demographic of the bench slowly making changes to become more diverse.

“The bench should strive to reflect those that appear before it,” she said. “Fairness and judicial equality start with those who are entrusted with the task of listening, assessing and making the important decisions that affect the people of our community.”

Robinson said she is ready for the opportunity to provide all these things to those who deserve and need them the most.

She said that appearing before many of the judges in Kings County has given her “a unique perspective,” stating that she is “keenly aware of what makes a judge effective – the temperament, professionalism, knowledge of the law, the ability to listen, respect for the litigants, and, for Kings County, the ability to move cases along in a civil part that easily has a calendar of 100 cases or more on any given day.

“All of the positive attributes and skills that I have had a front row seat to witness for the last 20 years set an excellent example for me and essentially the best road map that I could have ever hoped for,” Robinson said.

She added that she sees an opportunity to do her part in making sure the people of Brooklyn receive “fair and equal justice – justice that is compassionate and understanding, and justice that considers their individual circumstances when possible.

“Brooklyn deserves that,” stressed Robinson, stating that she is “ready to deliver.”

Robinson – who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and speech arts from Hofstra University and her juris doctorate (law degree) from American University Washington College of Law – resides in Bedford Stuyvesant with her husband of 20 years and their two teenage children.

Attorney Kenneth Gayle addresses congregation on Sunday at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn.
Attorney Kenneth Gayle addresses congregation on Sunday at Fenimore Street United Methodist Church in Brooklyn. Photo by Nelson A. King

In conceding defeat, Gayle, whose father hailed from Jamaica, congratulated Robinson on “a well-run campaign and wish her the best as Brooklyn’s next Civil Court Judge.

“I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful for the trust my voters placed in me,” he told Caribbean Life. “It was a great honor to run for Civil Court Judge in Brooklyn’s 6th District.

“I would like to thank my family, my campaign team, my volunteers, and the voters of Brooklyn’s 6th Municipal Court District for allowing me to partake in this great journey,” he added. “This journey has been one of dedication to justice, fairness, and the principles that uphold our legal system.

“Throughout my career, I have strived to serve with integrity, impartiality, and a commitment to upholding the rule of law,” Gayle continued. “Each case tried, each attempt at reconciliation or settlement, has been approached with careful consideration and a respect for the rights and responsibilities of every individual who enters the courtroom.

“Again, I am deeply thankful to my family, whose unwavering support has been my anchor throughout this journey,” he said. “I will work to ensure my son understands all that becoming a judge means for boys like him.  His journey is just beginning.  Mine is not done, but continues into a better tomorrow for all of us.”

Black Lives Matter Brooklyn Prez, Anthony Beckford.
Black Lives Matter Brooklyn Prez, Anthony Beckford.Courtesy Anthony Beckford

For State Committee in the 43rd Assembly District in Brooklyn, Jamaican-American Anthony Beckford and Grenadian-born Sarana Purcell were victors in the race in which voters could cast ballots for two of three candidates.

Purcell was re-elected with the most votes, 3,313 or 40.20; Beckford was elected for the first time with 2,476 votes, or 30.04 percent; and Akel Williams placed third, with 2,384 votes, or  28.93 percent. There were 69 write-in ballots, or 0.84 percent.

Beckford told Caribbean life that he was “truly humbled, excited and feeling blessed.

“This campaign was a true people-powered campaign,” he said. “I would like to thank the people of the 43rd Assembly District for standing with me and supporting my campaign to be elected as their Male State Committee Member/District Leader of the 43rd Assembly District.

“I want to thank my team and my volunteers who have put in countless hours with me and helped to knock on thousands of doors and were the backbone of this campaign,” he added. “I look forward to continuing my work for the people and working with Assembly Member Brian Cunningham, District Leader Sarana Purcell, Senator Zellnor Myrie, City Council Members Rita Joseph, Chi Osse, Darlene Mealy and Crystal Hudson on many of the issues we face in the 43rd AD.”

Beckford said he will also work with his fellow District Leaders across Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, “to help strengthen and protect our democracy and empower Democrats in Brooklyn.”

In his newly-elected position as Male State Committee Member/District Leader, Beckford said he will bring his “long history of advocacy into the role, to be able to help our District thrive and to become a vanguard for our democracy.

“There is work to be done, and I am ready,” he assured. “I will be the Male District Leader that the people of the 43rd Assembly District have been asking, the representation that that our community sought and a positive example to our youth of what leadership is. We Are The United 43rd.”

New York State Assemblywoman Bichotte Hermelyn, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, congratulated the projected Democratic Primary Election winners across Brooklyn and New York City, stating that the Brooklyn Democratic Party “thanks each and every voter in our borough who made their voices heard and these wins possible.

“The Brooklyn Democratic Party is eager to work with our borough’s victorious new Democratic nominees and winning incumbents in the US Congress, New York State Senate and Assembly, Kings County Civil Court, and our borough’s District Leaders,” she said.

“Let’s remember: we’re all Democrats–I express my utmost respect for all candidates who took part in our vital election process, which represents the bedrock of our democracy,” she added.

“Just as importantly, I thank all the volunteers, election workers and voters who played a vital part in this pivotal Primary as we remain in steadfast focus on winning the General Election in November,” Bichotte Hermelyn continued.

For a Surrogate Court seat in Queens, Caribbean-American Cassandra A. Johnson, whose mother hailed from Haiti, beat Wendy C. Li in the Democratic Primary.

Johnson received 32, 682 votes, or 54.46 percent, to Li’s 27, 016   votes, 45.02 percent. There were 309 write-in ballots, or 0.51 percent.