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Celebrating WHM

See the following articles:

Women Honored at Suffolk County Court Event

Third Judicial District Celebrates Columbia County’s First Woman Attorney

Paying Homage to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Queens Judge Earns Recognition as a Civic Leader, Mentor to Women


Trailblazing Women Honored at Suffolk County Court Event


Photo: Justice Liccione presents Judge Ciparick with a commemorative tea set

March 22, 2024
Cohalan Court Complex, Central Islip

Former Court of Appeals Senior Associate Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick–the first Latina appointed to New York’s high court in 1993–was the keynote speaker at an event at the Cohalan Court Complex highlighting this year’s Women’s History Month theme, “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.”

“Even from my first case as a new Legal Aid lawyer with a client in a custody proceeding, I was confronted with skepticism and mistrust,” Judge Ciparick told attendees, conveying some of the many challenges she faced as a woman early in her legal career. “I was the only woman in the room and I didn’t fare well. In fact, I was told by my opposing counsel, ‘Go home and have your own children and then you will understand what this is all about.”  However, Judge Ciparick remained undeterred, managing to get visitation privileges for her client, a recovering substance abuser. From that day forward, she was committed “to being heard, taken seriously, and fighting for equality in the profession for myself and for all women lawyers.”

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Maureen T. Liccione, a member of the Women in Courts Committee, presented Judge Ciparick with a decorative tea set commemorating the women’s suffrage movement. Since her retirement from the bench, Judge Ciparick continues to inspire young women through her service as Independent Monitor for Racial Bias in New York Courts, as well as Chair of the New York State Board of Law Examiners.

The celebration, sponsored by the County’s Women in the Courts Committee and hosted by Administrative Judge Andrew Crecca, also featured an awards ceremony honoring local women leaders in the legal profession. Those recognized for their contributions as pioneering women in the legal field included Supervising Judge of the Suffolk County Supreme Court’s Matrimonial Parts and Chair of the Suffolk County Equal Justice in the Courts Committee Cheryl Joseph; Executive Director of Suffolk County Human Rights Commission Dawn Lott; and St. John’s University School of Law Professor and former Faculty Director of the school’s Ronald H. Brown Center of Civil Rights Elaine Chiu.

The event was one of several Women’s History Month celebrations held at the Central Islip courthouse in March.


Photo: Judge Ciparick and Administrative Judge Crecca with Women’s History Month honorees (L to R) Supervising Judge Joseph, Professor Chiu, and Executive Director Lott


Third Judicial District Celebrates Columbia County’s First Woman Attorney


Photo: Administrative Judge Connolly addresses attendees at the Columbia County Court’s Women’s History Month celebration

March 22, 2024
Columbia County Courthouse, Hudson

Jean Helen Simmerlein Toigo became Columbia County’s first woman attorney in 1955, dedicating her professional life to serving children and families, initially as a family law attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Albany, then as a law guardian in the County’s Family Court. The Capital Region’s Third Judicial District, led by Administrative Judge Gerald Connolly, celebrated Mrs. Toigo’s legacy at a Women’s History Month event held in late March at the Columbia County Courthouse in Hudson, New York.

Among the attendees were friends, family, and former colleagues of Mrs. Toigo, including both active and retired Columbia County Court judges, as well members of the Columbia-Greene Community College community, where she was a trustee. Additionally, a poster honoring Mrs. Toigo now graces the Columbia County Courthouse –part of a district-wide initiative paying homage to pioneering community members who have made a positive impact on the Third Judicial District and the New York State Courts.


Photo: Family members pose in front of the Columbia County Court’s poster honoring trailblazing attorney Jean Helen Simmerlein Toigo


Paying Homage to Trailblazing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor


Photo L-R: Judge Lee, Susan Kohlmann, Associate Justice Webber, Sherry Levin Wallach, Presiding Justice Renwick, Associate Judge Troutman, District Attorney Clark, Justice Hirsch, Associate Judge Rivera, and Julia Malkina pose with photo of Justice Day O’Connor

Monday, March 18, 2024
New York City Bar Association, Manhattan

Throughout March, courts across the state are hosting Women’s History Month programs to promote gender equity and call attention to the many–often overlooked–contributions of women to the law, judiciary, and society. Among these events, the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, in partnership with the New York City Bar Association, presented a program honoring the legacy of the late Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first women to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, our nation’s highest tribunal.
The evening program, held at the historic Surrogate’s courthouse in Lower Manhattan, included opening remarks from Appellate Division, First Department Associate Justice and Williams Commission Co-chair Troy K. Webber; Acting Supreme Court Justice and New York Women Judges Association, Inc. President Marcia Hirsch; and New York City Bar Association President Susan J. Kohlmann.

New York Court of Appeals Associate Judge and Williams Commission Co-Chair Shirley Troutman paid tribute to Justice O’Connor as “a trailblazer with lasting impact.” The evening’s keynote was presented by Appellate Division, First Department Presiding Justice Dianne T. Renwick.

During the event, there was also a showing of the video, “In Her Own Words, featuring Justice Day O’Connor. The program closed with a panel discussion, moderated by New York Court of Appeals Associate Judge Jenny Rivera, followed by a question-and-answer segment. Panelists included U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Eunice C. Lee; Bronx County District Attorney Darcel D. Clark; attorney Julia A. Malkina, a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and former law clerk to Justice Day O’Connor; and attorney Sherry Levin Wallach, past president of the New York State Bar Association.


Pioneering Queens Judge Earns International Recognition as a Civic Leader, Mentor to Women


Photo: “Women of the Decade” Awardee Justice Velasquez at the Harvard Club

March 8 and March 14, 2024
Harvard Club, Mid-Manhattan
Queens Borough Hall, Kew Gardens

Trailblazing Queens County Supreme Court-Civil Term Justice Carmen R. Velasquez was honored in March by two distinct entities–the Women’s Economic Forum, a global forum based in India that works to “foster empowering conversations, connections, and collaborations among women”; and the Assembly of Ecuador, the country’s legislative body, led by Henry Kronfle–for her judicial leadership, community service, and role as a mentor to women and young people.

The first Ecuadorian American to become an elected judge in the United States upon her 2008 election to New York City’s Civil Court bench, Justice Velasquez received the Women’s Economic Forum’s Women of the Decade Award at the New York City Harvard Club in mid-Manhattan on March 8, 2024; and the Assembly of Ecuador’s Lifetime Achievement Award at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens on March 14, 2024. The former award acknowledges women who, as pioneers in their respective fields, use their voice and vision to inspire and inform others. The latter honor is presented to leaders of Ecuadorian descent who have made significant contributions both to their profession and local community.

When Justice Velasquez emigrated from her native Ecuador at age 14, she didn’t speak a word of English. Although she was dissuaded from pursuing a legal career by her school advisers, she remained undeterred, attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice as a Belle Zeller Scholar and then going on to earn her Juris Doctor–on a full scholarship–from Temple Law School. The recipient of some 100 awards and honors for her judicial leadership and civic participation, Justice Velasquez has dedicated her professional and personal life to paving the way for other women, as well as those from underrepresented communities. We congratulate her on these two latest honors, along with her many other achievements!


Photo (L-R): Acting Supreme Court Justice Edwin Novillo, Queens County Criminal Court Judge Diego Freire, Ecuadorian Assembly President Henry Konfler, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Justice Velasquez, Supreme Court Justice Karina Alomar, and Bronx Civil Court Judge Joaquin Orellana at the Queens Borough Hall ceremony



Womens History Month