On October 30, 2019, Joyce Y. Hartsfield retired as the Executive Director of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission. A retirement luncheon was held in her honor at OCA Offices on December 11, 2019.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Joyce Y. Hartsfield received her undergraduate degree from Wayne State University in 1970. She later attended Syracuse University where she received her Master’s in Education and her Juris Doctorate. Ms. Hartsfield was admitted to practice law in the State of New York in 1979. Her first legal employment was with the Legal Aid Society. Thereafter, she went into private practice specializing in matrimonial, criminal, and real estate matters. Ms. Hartsfield has always been active with various bar associations and served as President of the Bronx County Bar Association with a membership of over one thousand lawyers.
Ms. Hartsfield joined the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission in 1992 as Executive Director. In that capacity, she planned national conferences and local programs on diversity and implicit bias and participated on interview panels in the hiring of upper management court personnel. Past Commission conferences addressed subjects such as Race and the Law; Disproportionate Number of Minority Youth in the Family and Criminal Court Systems; Mass Incarceration: Mercy Matters; and Nullifying Gang Violence. In June 2019, a conference was held at St. John’s Law School on Race, Ethnicity and the Impact on Immigration. The Commission has had an integral role with the National Consortium on Race and Ethnic Fairness which is supported by the National Center for State Courts.
Ms. Hartsfield has received numerous awards over the years, including the African American Legal Defense Fund Attorney Merit Award; the Ruth Whitehead Whaley Award from the Association of Black Women Attorneys; the Ivan Warner Outstanding Lawyer’s Award; the New York County Lawyers Association Diversity Award; the Distinguished Service Award from the Judicial Friends Association; the Honorable Theodore T. Jones, Jr., Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York State Unified Court System Committee for Black History Month; and the Honorable Frank Torres Award for Commitment to Diversity from the Latino Judges Association.
Ms. Hartsfield’s mission has always been to help and to encourage new attorneys and court personnel, just as she was helped and encouraged when she was a new attorney. Her motto is, “Giving to others is one of life’s rewards and a necessity for growth.”
The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission will be forever grateful to Joyce Y. Hartsfield for her service as its Executive Director for some 27 years and wishes her well as she embarks on the next chapter in her life.