Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commision - Promoting Racial and Ethical Fairness in the Courts

In This Issue


Mercy Matters Conference

Interrupting Implicit Bias program

  State of the Judiciary

  Kay Crawford luncheon  

  Spotlight on Interpreters

  Judicial Luncheon  

  Black History Month Program

  Taa Grays Appointment  

  Baker Motley Symposium      

Franklin H. Williams Judicial
Commission to host Conference
Mass Incarceration: Mercy Matters


The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform recently released its final report detailing how to reduce the city’s jail population. The issues of mass incarceration have been long standing and involves historic and systemic injustices. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Tackling this issue will require an examination of fundamental issues of justice. The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission will seek to address these issues and to examine where do we go from here in a one day conference on June 13, 2017, Mass Incarceration: Mercy Matters. The Conference will occur at Fordham University School of Law at 150 W.62nd Street, New York, NY 10023.

The conference will discuss the cause and effect of the high incarceration rate and solutions to reduce the numbers of persons of color entering the prison system. There will be sessions examining bail reform, civil problems contributing to mass incarceration, implicit bias in sentencing and parole, and efforts to reform the prison system. Please view our Sate the Dave postcard,

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore will bring opening remarks and the keynote speaker is Glenn E. Martin, President, JustLeadershipUSA. Other scheduled speakers thus far include Hon. Jonathan Lippman; Hon. Donovan J. Foughty, Northeast Judicial District Court; Hon. Darcel Clark, Bronx District Attorney; Marc Mauer, Executive Director, The Sentencing Project; Josh Norkin, Special Litigation Unit, Legal Aid Society, Decarceration Project; Anthony Ricco, Attorney at Law; Professor David Udell, Executive Director, National Center for Access to Justice, Fordham Law School; Professor Judith Resnik, Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Professor Michael B. Mushlin, Pace Law School and Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci, NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

The conference will provide continuing legal education credits. Program and registration information will be available on our website soon,


Chief Judge DiFiore Delivers
State Of Our Judiciary Address


Hon. Gerald J. Whelan, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, Hon. Karen Peters, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Third Department, Hon. Janet DiFiore, Chief Judge, New York State Courts, Hon. Lawrence Marks, Chief Administrative Judge, New York State Courts, Hon. Randall T. Eng, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department and Hon. Peter Tom, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, First Department


On, February 22, 2017, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore presented her first “State of Our Judiciary” at the Bronx County Hall of Justice. This was the first time the “State of Our Judiciary” was held in the Bronx New York. This year’s address featured Chief Judge DiFiore’s “Excellence Initiative: Year One.” The Excellence Initiative is geared towards reducing case backlog to ensure “just and timely resolution of all matters” that come before the court. William Gladstone, the British politician stated, “Justice delayed is justice denied” imploring that if there is not a timely redress of a legal issue, it may greatly impact upon a party in a negative way. Furthermore, Dr. Martin Luther King, stated “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Often times it is communities of color that are greatly impacted by delayed justice. We believe these communities will benefit greatly from the improved administration of justice. Any efforts toward speedy justice will improve the perception of justice for all New Yorkers. As part of the Excellence Initiative, the Chief Judge welcomes comments on what is “working well and what needs to be improved” at the following website,


Court Interpreter Spotlight:
Ching-Lan Wong


Ching-Lan Wong


When the Federal Court of the Eastern District of New York called Ching-Lan Wong (Nancy) for an interpreting assignment in the Wenzhou dialect in the early 1990’s, she had no idea that she could get paid for interpreting. After all, she had been translating documents and interpreting for her aunts and uncles, without cost. She started her interpreting career with various entities, first acting as a liaison between English and Chinese speakers.

Life is full of unexpected events. In 2008, she was hired by Queens County Criminal Court as a full-time Mandarin, Cantonese and Wenzhou Chinese interpreter. She believes that learning is a life-long process and making self-improvement is a part of her ongoing goal in life.

September 2015, Nancy became an acting supervisor. May 2016, she was promoted to the Senior Court Interpreter position, overseeing an office of eighteen interpreters which has subsequently grown to twenty-one. Just a few generations ago in China, a Chinese woman’s expected role would be staying home and taking care of her family. Today, anything is possible, if one believes.


Black History Month Program


Hon. O. Peter Sherwood, Hon. La Tia W. Martin, Hon. Peter H. Moulton, Paula Browne Edmé, Hon. Fern Fisher and Hon. Lawrence K. Marks


Hon. Milton Adair Tingling, NY County Clerk presenting the Hon. Theodore T. Jones, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award to Hon. Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, New York City Courts.


On February 23, 2017, the Unified Court System’s Black History Month Committee co-sponsored with the Tribune Society Inc. and Judicial Friends Association, the 27th annual program to commemorate Black History Month. The Theodore T. Jones, Jr., Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Hon. Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, New York City Courts; the Civic Leadership Award was presented to Paula Brown Edmé, NAACP Vice President of Field Operations; and the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Hon. O. Peter Sherwood, Supreme Court Justice, New York County, Commercial Division. The master of ceremonies was Hon. Milton Adair Tingling, New York County Clerk. Ms. Sydorna Daniels-Sherrod delivered two outstanding musical selections.

Opening Remarks was delivered by our Chief Administrative Judge, Hon. Lawrence K. Marks, and the keynote address was given by Hon. O. Peter Sherwood.


Constance Baker Motley Symposium


Sandra Buchanan, Moderator


Sandra Buchanan Esq. at podium. Leonard M. Baynes, Hon. Jenny Rivera, Darryl Gibbs, Joseph Hanna, Sharon Bowen, Lillian Moy, Carol Robles-Román, and Taa Grays


On January 23, 2017, the New York State Bar Association hosted the Constance Baker Motley Symposium. This year, Hon. Denny Chin, Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit received the Trailblazer Award. The symposium also included a panel of previous honorees discussing their perspectives on the current state of diversity in the legal profession. Sandra Buchanan, chair of the New York State Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion committee served as moderator.

The panel included Leonard M. Baynes, Dean of University of Houston Law Center; Hon. Jenny Rivera, Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals; Darryl Gibbs, Lead Director & Associate General Counsel at AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company; Joseph Hanna, partner of the Goldberg Segalla firm; Sharon Y. Bowen, Commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Lillian Moy, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York; Carol Robles-Román, President and CEO of Legal Momentum, The Women’s Legal Defense & Education Fund; Taa Grays, Vice President of Information Governance, Metlife, Inc.


Interrupting Implicit Bias program


Paula Edgar, Sandra Buchanan, Valerie E. Radwaner, Jeremy Benjamin, Claire P. Gutekunst, Hon. Karen K. Peters and Wayne McKenzie


The NYSBA Committee on Civil Rights and the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion co-hosted the seminar, “Disrupting Implicit Bias to Advance Diversity and Inclusion: Practical Steps to Counter the Effects of Implicit Bias in the Legal Profession.” Professor Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law, UC Hastings Foundation Chair and Director of the Center for WorkLife Law, discussed patterns of implicit bias and strategies to disrupt bias. Her presentation was followed by a panel discussion where the panelist related their own experiences in identifying and interrupting implicit bias. The moderator was Paul Edgar, Principal PGE LLC. The panelists included Wayne McKenzie, General Counsel, New York City Department of Probation; Rosevelie Marquez Morales, East Coast Director, Sidley Austin LLP; Hon. Karen K. Peters, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, 3rd Department; and Valerie E. Radwaner, Deputy Chair and Partner, Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.


Kay Crawford luncheon


Ferve Ozturk,, Co-Chair, NYSBA Committee on Women in the Law: Jacqueline Hattar, Awards Co-chair; Catherine Christian, Kay Crawford Murray Award recipient: Claire Gutekunst, NYSBA President; Susan Harper, Co-Chair, NYSBA Committee on Women in the Law


The Committee on Women in the Law hosted its annual luncheon and presented the 2017 Kay Crawford Murray Award to Catherine Christian. The Kay Crawford Murray Award honors a commitment to diversity and the advancement of women in the legal profession. Catherine A. Christian is a Special Assistant District Attorney for External Affairs, New York County District Attorney’s Office and Chief of the Elder Abuse Unit. Claire P. Gutekunst, President of the New York State Bar Association, presented the award to Ms. Christian.

Ms. Christian has previously served as president of the New York County Lawyers’ Association making her the first African American to hold that position, the youngest and the second woman to hold the position. Ms. Christian is also a member of the New York County District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Program and its Police Brady/Giglio and Exoneration Review Committees.


Judicial Luncheon


Hon. Lawrence K. Marks


Hon. William C. Thompson


On January 27, 2017, the NYSBA Judicial Section held its annual reception and luncheon. Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks received the 2017 Distinguished Jurist Award. The other honorees included Hon. Milton Mollen (retired Presiding Justice of the 2nd Department, Appellate Division) recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Recognition and Hon. William C. Thompson, (retired Associate Justice of the 2nd Department, Appellate Division) recipient of the 2017 Award for Advancement of Judicial Diversity.


Hon. Milton Mollen with his award surrounded by family and friends


Taa Grays Appointment


New York State Minority Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins appointed Taa Grays, the vice president and associate general counsel for information governance at MetLife, Inc., to serve on the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigates complaints against judges of the NY State Unified Court System. There are 11 members of the Commission and Ms. Gray’s is one of two women of color currently serving.

Office of Court Administration Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission  25 Beaver Street, Room 861 • New York, New York 10004 Commission MembersHon. Richard B. Lowe, ChairHon. Troy K. Webber, 1st Vice Chair Sandra Rivera, Esq, 2nd Vice Chair Hon. Vanessa Bogan T. Andrew Brown, Esq. Hon. George B. Daniels Hon. Kathie Davidson Linda Dunlap-Miller, J.D., MSW Lenora B. Foote, Esq.
Hon. Craig D. Hannah Nadine C. Johnson, Esq. Hon. Barbara R. Kapnick Paul Kenny, Esq. Lenore Kramer, Esq. Hon. Yvonne lewisHon. Doris Ling-Cohan Lieutenant Clemont Mack Hon. Stephen T. Miller Hon. Eduardo Padro Hon. Joanne D. Quiñones Hon. Richard Rivera Hon. Robert E. Torres Adrienne Williams, Esq.Hon. Rose H. Sconiers, Chair Emeritus Hon. Lewis L. Douglass, Chair Emeritus Joyce Y. Hartsfield, Executive Director Karlene Dennis, Associate Counsel