Our message to the community:
As judges of color who preside over criminal and civil matters within the community, we feel compelled, in light of events that have been and are unfolding before us all across the country, to take a moment to convey our thoughts, as to our responsibility and commitment as jurists.
W.E.B. Du Bois, the first African American to receive a Ph.D from Harvard University, wrote over a century ago in 1903, in his book titled “The Souls of Black Folk,” that:
“Daily the [person of color] is coming more and more to look upon law and justice, not as protecting safeguards, but as sources of humiliation and oppression.”
Sadly, for too many, such sentiments are as raw today as they were in 1903, as evidenced by worldwide protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
Each day we seek to dispel any narrative or belief that looks upon courts as instruments of injustice, by treating each person fairly and impartially while upholding our oaths to the constitutions of the State of New York and the United States. However, there is much work to be done, and we like all judges must be mindful of the impact of systemic racism or bias in fulfilling the court’s responsibility to ensure equal justice to all under the law.
We reaffirm our commitment to make a positive difference within our respective courts each day and to ensure that those appearing before us are treated equally, with the respect and dignity that both the law and humanity require.