The Brooklyn Democratic Party hosted their first-ever Community Forum for Civil Court Judicial Candidates last week, marking a significant move towards transparency in the election of Brooklyn judges.
“This community forum is a historic new step forward to ensure that every Brooklyn Democrat is more engaged and knowledgeable, and provides the most input possible for the party’s nomination of judges that have a lasting impact on our lives,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
The panel, which featured seven candidates vying for four open spots on the Civil Court bench in Kings County this year, and was moderated by Dana Rachlin, the chair of the party’s newly-formed Ad-Hoc Judiciary Committee.
Held at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, the forum gave the public a chance to learn more about the candidates, and participate in the election process to nominate candidates to serve on the bench.
“The Brooklyn Democratic party is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion by endorsing competent judicial candidates that serve the needs of all Brooklynites fairly and impartially,” Bichotte Hermelyn added.
The seven candidates participating in the event were:
- Kenneth Gayle, Attorney in Private Practice
- Betsey Jean-Jacques, Supreme Court Law Clerk
- Monique Holman, Court Attorney
- Linda Wilson, Supreme Court Law Clerk
- Marva Brown, Attorney with the Legal Aid Society
- Turquoise Haskin, Supreme Court Law Clerk
- Chevone Sanon, Senior Administrative Law Judge, DMV
If elected to the Civil Court, the would-be judges would serve a 10-year term on the bench.
Democratic District Leaders, who make up the Executive Committee of the county’s party apparatus, are tasked with nominating judges for the party line for Civil Court, and they are heavily favored to win in overwhelmingly-Democratic Brooklyn.
This forum is a long-sought-after measure of transparency that increases public input in the process.
The forum also included one candidate for the open Surrogate Court spot in Brooklyn — Bernard Graham, who is currently serving in that role as the acting Surrogate Court judge.
“Each judicial candidate here is extremely qualified, and has been thoroughly vetted by our Kings County Judicial Screening Committee,” Bichotte Hermelyn. “But qualifications aren’t enough. We want to make sure that each and every judge on the bench has a keen understanding of the diverse needs of all corners of our boroughs, and is culturally competent.”
Each candidate, during the nearly-two hour forum, spoke about various issues facing Brooklyn, including addressing crime, reforming the penal system and promoting a better standard of living for all residents.
Watch the forum below:
*Editor’s note: Brooklyn Paper’s Editor-in-Chief, Aidan Graham, is the son of Surrogate Court candidate Bernard Graham.