Raja Rajeswari was born in Chennai in Southern India and migrated to the United States at the age of sixteen. She graduated summa cum laude from the College of Staten Island, with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1994. She graduated with honors from Brooklyn Law School with a Juris Doctor in 1998. She began her career in public service at the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office in 1998 where she served for over sixteen years in various bureaus. She was promoted to the position of Deputy Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes Special Victims Bureau and Senior Trial Counsel for the Supreme Court Bureau. She is multi-lingual and credits her language skills, sensitivity and her cultural background with affording her the ability to communicate with witnesses of varied ethnic and religious backgrounds from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Raja Rajeswari is a renowned Indian classical dancer and instructor and has travelled extensively. She was awarded the Belle Zeller Merit Scholarship in November of 1992 by the City University of New York for academic excellence, meritorious achievement and community service. She was twice honored with the Women in History Award, in 2002 from Assemblyman Robert Straniere, and again in 2013 by Councilwoman Debi Rose for her legal and cultural contributions to the Staten Island community.

Judge Rajeswari made history when she was sworn in by Mayor Bill de Blasio in April of 2015. She is the first South Asian woman to become a Judge in New York and the first Indian American woman to be appointed to Criminal Court in the history of New York. She particularly credits the South Asian American community for the encouragement and support they provided to an immigrant like her to dream big and achieve her dreams of serving her community. Judge Rajeswari is honored to serve as the chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Court Interpreting for the Office of Court Administration. She understands the special challenges faced by individuals with limited English proficiency and wants to provide a better court environment for thousands of immigrants who participate in our judicial system regardless of the language they speak. She has presented at numerous venues including the New York City Bar Association about the importance of providing language access. She is a faculty member of the Judicial Institute and has lectured at summer seminars and trained judges and senior clerks about providing equal access to justice for immigrants.




Irini Bekhit shares her journey to becoming an Associate Court Attorney for Richmond County Surrogate’s Court, a union delegate for the Court Attorney’s Association representing Surrogate and Supreme Court attorneys and an adjunct professor teaching Business Law and Political Science to undergraduate students at the College of Staten Island.

Irini Bekhit, Esq., is a resident of Staten Island for over 24 years, an active community leader, serving as a volunteer in many Staten Island and statewide organizations. She is also a full-time employee of the Richmond County Surrogate’s Court, and is currently an Associate Court Attorney.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, but growing up on Staten Island, she graduated Staten Island Technical High School and went on to the New Jersey Institute of Technology where she obtained a B.A. in the History of Medicine, Technology and Environment. While attaining her undergraduate degree, she was the president of the Student Government for two years and helped bridge the gap between the administration and student body, while maintaining a high GPA and working part-time at a local Staten Island pharmacy. After graduating NJIT in 2005, she went on to earn her juris doctorate from Rutgers Law. She interned at numerous organizations during her educational career, including the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, the ACLU, the Surrogate’s Court of Richmond County and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. In her endeavor to experience different areas of the law, she also worked for a mid-size personal injury firm in NYC, a real estate firm in down-town NYC and a local Staten Island law firm specializing in Trusts and Estates.

Ms. Bekhit began her career in the Surrogate’s Court of Richmond County in January 2011 and since then has joined the Board of Director of Meals on Wheels of Staten Island for four years and chaired the 2014 Meals on Wheels Annual Luncheon. She is also an active member of the County Committee of the Richmond County Democratic Party and chaired the annual Gala in 2010. She is also a member of the Trusts and Estates Committee on the Richmond County Bar Association and was the 13th District Representative for the Trusts and Estates Law Section for the NYS Bar Association for two consecutive terms. She is also the union delegate for the Court Attorney’s Association representing Surrogate and Supreme Court attorneys. She joined the faculty of the College of Staten Island, part of the CUNY system in the fall of 2015 and is an adjunct professor teaching Business Law and Political Science to undergraduate students. She was sworn in as a Director for the Richmond County Bar Association in 2015 and continues to be an active member of the RCBA. She was elected President of the American Coptic Council in September 2019 and continues to work with that organization in an effort to help Copts as minorities have a voice in their respective communities.

As a court attorney, she spearheaded the Major Case Department and is the current supervisor of the Guardianship Department. She is responsible for handling conferences, drafting legal decisions and opinions, meeting with the public and attorneys, as well as other duties as designated by the Surrogate. She works closely with the Clerk’s office and the interns throughout the year and has created and implemented the only undergraduate 10 week internship court program on Staten Island. She has presented numerous CLE’s to the Richmond County Bar, to the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association and to the New York State Bar Association.

Ms. Bekhit resides in Staten Island, with her husband, Dr. A. Jay Mosses, who is an Ob/Gyn attending physician with NYU Langone, as well as her seven-year old and three-year old sons.




Inga O’Neale is a Principal Law Clerk in the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, where she has worked in different capacities and departments, including, as a Court Attorney in the Law Department and as a Principal Law Clerk.

Ms. O’Neale is a member of various professional associations and has been recognized for her legal work and service. She is a former President and current Secretary of the Association of Law Secretaries to the Justices of the Supreme and Surrogate’s Court, a board of the member of Metropolitan Black Bar Association and a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Minorities in the Courts Committee. In 2016, Ms. O’Neale was presented with the Faith O’Neal Award for Distinguished Service to the Association of Law Secretaries to the Justices of the Supreme and Surrogate’s Court. In 2017, she was presented with the Employee of the Year Award for Chambers Staff at the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term. Ms. O’Neale also volunteers as a Small Claims Court arbitrator.

Ms. O’Neale is a graduate of SUNY at Stony Brook and received her Juris Doctor from Hofstra University School of Law.





Sylvia T. Miranda is a Court Analyst for the New York State Courts. Sylvia shares the skills and traits that have assisted her on her path to success and discusses her role as President of the Cervantes Society.

1. What motivated you to join the court system?
I have always been socially conscious and an active supporter of various law enforcement and community-based organizations. The court system provided a professional environment in which I could continue to provide service and knowledge to the community while expanding my professional development.

2. What are your current duties as a Court Analyst for the Unified Court System (Chief Clerk’s Office)?
My current duties as the Chief Clerk’s Court Analyst is to assist in the overall management of court operations and resource planning. I facilitate the implementation of plans for the improvement of court operations and compile court statistics and court performance measures. I act as liaison between the Chief Clerk and court administrative personnel to address their administrative needs. I also assist in the development of statistical methods and procedures for a system of regular collection, review, analysis, and communication of court statistics and trends in case filings, dispositions, pending case aging, and judicial workload. Lastly, I am responsible for website updates including postings of organization lists, administrative orders, judges’ rules, and reference libraries.

3. What is the Cervantes Society, Inc., and your role in the organization?
The Cervantes Society is fraternal and advocacy organization created over 25 years ago to represent Latinos employed by the Unified Court System in their professional development and advancement. It was also created to recognize the contributions of Latinos and provide an environment for networking within the UCS and the community.

4. What are some of the programs or activities that the Cervantes Society hosts? How does one become a member of the Cervantes Society?
The Cervantes Society does outreach in our community when noncompetitive and promotional examinations, and new positions are posted. We network on behalf of our members so that hiring managers are fully appraised of the quality of our candidates. We have many activities throughout the year that include a Resume Bank, Mentor Program, Toys-for-Tots Drive, Children's Holiday Party and Hispanic Heritage Month programs. Those who are interested in becoming members can request an application via email to or on our website:

5. What skills or traits have assisted you on your path to success?
My cultural awareness, diverse professional development, and the great people around me all contribute to my environment of success. I passionately pursue my dreams and opportunities with an open heart and mind and with an attitude of gratitude and service.

6. Was there a person who positively impacted you during your tenure at the courts and how did the person impact you?
There have been several key and impactful people who have served as my role models, leaders who broke barriers of disparity and discrimination. They lead by example and inspire others, like me, to keep moving forward because the things we change and the impact we have is not for ourselves but the generations that will follow.

7. Why is diversity important in the courts?
While the courts have an indispensable role to play in any constitutional democracy, they represent a justice system that was not originally nor traditionally created for people who look like me. Having said that, diversity is critical in increasing public confidence in our justice system to ensure a well-balanced, fair, and impartial relationship between the law and citizens of the human race. Increasing diversity in the courts would also encourage people from different groups to seek a career in the courts.




LEAH RICHARDSON is a Network System Engineer for the New York State Courts and has a stellar history of service. She shares insight into her pathway to achievement, her passion for service and her role as President of the Tribune Society.

1. What motivated you to join the court system?
As a child I always wanted to help wherever needed. I wanted to be a nurse and work in a major hospital because I knew the need to help someone would be there, However, I was always fascinated by any topic related to law. I can remember growing up and watching police shows and trying to figure out how the detectives solved the crime. I wanted to address injustice. My passion for equality and social justice grew. I am determined to use my experience, skills and viewpoint to unite multiple marginalized communities. I want to help foster understanding and appreciation for our differences and similarities alike. Never in a million years did I think I would be working for the courts. Being a court employee gives me the opportunity to see how the legal system works and hopefully be able to make a difference one day and positively impact someone’s life.

A viable justice system is essential to protect the public from crime and disorder, safeguard vulnerable children, and enable critical decisions to continue to be made which affect our community. By sharing ideas, innovations, and problem solving across jurisdictions, our legal system has operated more effectively during the pandemic. The pandemic has enabled the courts to use technology to transform courts into a more accessible, transparent, efficient, and user-friendly branch of government that I am proud to be part of the team.

2. What are your current duties as a Network Systems Engineer for the Unified Court System?
I am part of a team of essential workers who provides technical support and training to Brooklyn Supreme Civil and Criminal Term justices, management and non-judicial staff throughout the Brooklyn courts. My technical experience allows me to handle a variety of complex projects and to interact with all levels of management. I am also responsible for computer training, inventory control and technical support, such as electronic filing, online case management, video and teleconference hearings and online payment platforms. Throughout the pandemic, technology has been a vital part of the court system’s existence and provides greater flexibility for court users and staff alike.

3. What is the Tribune Society of the Courts of the State of New York and your role in the organization?
I am excited to be the newly-elected President of the Tribune Society of the Courts of the State of New York. The Tribune Society is a fraternal organization of judicial and non-judicial court personnel of color. Founded in 1968 by a group of peace officers, its chief objectives are to consistently improve the administration of justice and ensure equal opportunity for all who work for, or are served by, the New York State Unified Court System. To this end, the Tribune Society seeks to promote and extend diversity in the judiciary and upper echelon non-judicial positions within the Unified Court System. Moreover, we support taking affirmative steps to assure equal justice and self-improvement on behalf of people of color. The Tribune Society is at the forefront in its quest to attain the constitutional ideal of “equality and justice for all.” Let us keep achieving as we sing the Tribune Society theme song, “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.”

4. What are some of the program or activities that the Tribune Society hosts? How does one become a member of the Tribune Society?
When our founders began the Tribune Society, they understood that the courts must not only service the community but also reflect our community. The Tribune Society and its members provide various forums, many geared for young people, to enable the diverse communities to better understand the workings of the court system. In 1992, a scholarship was established in memory of Alphonso B. Deal to promote education. Mr. Deal was a Senior Court Clerk and a Tribune member that lost his life while attempting to protect his community. In 2002, we renamed the scholarship fund to include Captain William Thompson, a Tribune member who perished while saving others during the World Trade Center tragedy. Each year outstanding students are selected by the screening committee to receive scholarships. The students are chosen based on their academic merit, talents, and community service. In September 1995, the Educational committee implemented a mentoring program. In celebration of Black History Month, the Tribune Society co-sponsors a program to commemorate the rich heritage of African Americans. The Black History Month program features prominent guest speakers and welcomes the public. The Tribune Society also conducts an annual Christmas Toy Drive, contributing several hundred toys to children centers, local churches, needy families and homeless shelters throughout NYC and Westchester County. One of the organization’s objectives is career advancement for its members and other people of color in the Unified Court System. Recent appointments now include more managers of color, making court administrators more reflective of our communities. In 1999, an annual career preparation seminar was established to assist in this area. Tribune Society members regularly offer preparatory classes for entrance and promotional examinations. Participants in these courses, which are open to all, consistently attain above-average scores.

The Tribune Society welcomes all court employees to join its membership. You may visit us on social media: The Tribune Society, Inc. - Home | Facebook; The Tribune Society, Inc. (@tribune_society) • Instagram photos and videos; The Tribune Society (@TribuneSociety) / Twitter and at our website:

5. Congratulations on your receiving this year’s “Milton Mollen Commitment to Excellence Award” for your dedication, talents, and extraordinary service to the courts.  What skills or traits have assisted you on your path to success?
The technology industry has gained a reputation for a male-dominated culture, which is often particularly pronounced in technology and engineering departments. For women who are building their careers within the field, that can present challenges their male colleagues are not faced with. I have been in the technology field for over 30 years. There was a time when I felt like being a woman working in technology often meant being the only woman in the room. But as I have progressed in my career toward leadership roles, that has changed. The path to my success means that I need to do what I can to help women and other under-represented groups gain access to, and succeed in, the rewarding career opportunities that can be found in the court system. It means I need to “pay it forward” and give back by becoming a leader and a mentor. It means I need to create communities where women and other under-represented groups feel included and can play an active role. It means I need to call out inequality and under-representation if I encounter it. It also means I need to use my platform to increase representation in professional roles.

6. Was there a person who positively impacted you during your tenure at the courts and how did the person impact you?
Although there are many who have impacted me throughout my career in the courts, the one who has impacted me the most is one of my sister friends. She is the person who has encouraged and motivated me in a way no one else ever did. She always inspired me to push my limits towards success. In fact, she is the one who helped me in defining what success would mean to me. She always believed in me, sometimes even more than I believed in myself. She would tell me “nothing is impossible” and I could achieve my goals. Her belief in me made me unstoppable. I am very much thankful to her for believing in me always.

7. Why is diversity important in the courts?
The judiciary is one of three co-equal branches of our democratic government and the courts have served as a critical lynchpin of our democracy. As a branch of government, the court system should be representative and reflective of the population it serves in every way. Diversity bolsters public trust and confidence in the courts and is critical to ensuring the existence an informed judiciary that can readily incorporate a variety of viewpoints and experiences into their decision-making process. Diversity in the courts fosters empathy, understanding and respect.

Diversity amplifies voices of those from traditionally underserved communities. Diversity in the courts also impedes discriminatory hiring practices and strengthens communities. Diversity in the courts is important because it serves to optimize fair treatment and advances the attributes of democracy that our society deeply values.

Leah Richardson holds an M.P.A from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a specialization in Organizational Management and a B.A. in Communications from The College of New Rochelle. She is also a Licensed Property Manager, RAM. Leah is a dedicated public servant who began her career within the New York State Unified Court System in July of 1991. She currently serves as a Network Systems Engineer in the Information Technology Department of the Supreme Court, Kings County. In this capacity, Leah provides technical support and training to civil and criminal term justices, management and non-judicial staff throughout the Brooklyn courts. In addition to meeting the demands of her role in the technology department, Leah is an active leader of numerous court and community-based organizations, always contributing her best work and encouraging others to do the same.


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