Neighbors for Judicial Transparency

INTRODUCING THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATED JUDGES
ON THE NOVEMBER 3 BALLOT







Neighbors for Judicial Transparency interview Brooklyn Supreme Court Judicial Nominees

HON. KAREN B. ROTHENBERG

Karen B. Rothenberg has been an elected Supreme Court Justice since January, 2007. She is presently assigned to the Civil Term of the Supreme Court in Kings County where she presides in an Individual Assignment Part. Justice Rothenberg’s caseload includes all types of matters including torts, contracts, medical malpractice actions and real property disputes. She has previously presided in Matrimonial Parts, the City of New York Part and the Integrated Domestic Violence Part. During her tenure in the Supreme Court she has conducted hundreds of trials and has decided thousands of motions. Justice Rothenberg is known for her excellent judicial temperament, her legal acumen, and her unique ability to settle even the most complex cases. She has been interviewed and vetted by many bar associations and screening panels and has been found qualified each and every time.

In 1998 Justice Rothenberg began her term as a Judge of the Civil Court after a countywide election. In 2001 she was appointed Supervising Judge of that court, and designated an Acting Supreme Court Justice, by New York’s Chief Administrative Judge. As Supervising Judge, aside from her caseload, Judge Rothenberg’s responsibilities included overseeing the day to day operation of the court which included the Housing Court and Small Claims Court, the work assignments of 30 Judges, and a docket of over 250,000 cases annually. She presided in the Trial Assignment Part and is widely credited with greatly reducing the enormous backlog of cases awaiting trial.

She has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards including the Sybil Hart Kooper Award from the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association for her work in furtherance of women’s issues in the law as well as their award for Leadership and Achievement, the Ecumenical Award from the Catholic Lawyers Association, and the Wisdom of Solomon award from Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel.

HON. CAROLYN WADE

The Honorable Carolyn E. Wade was elected to Kings County Civil Court in November 2007. She served in that capacity in Queens County from January 2008 to December 2008, and was re-assigned to Kings County in January 2009. Three years later, the Chief Administrative Judge appointed her as an Acting Justice, Supreme Court, 2nd Department. Most recently, in January 2015, Justice Wade was elevated to the Kings County Supreme Court as a full Acting Supreme Court Justice. In November 2017, she was re-elected to the New York City Civil Court.

From January 2015 until December 2015, Justice Wade served as the Presiding Justice in the Mental Hygiene Court in Kings County to ensure that hospitals comply with Article 9 of the Mental Hygiene Law, which prescribes standards for the treatment and hospitalization of psychiatric patients. Currently, she presides over a wide variety of civil jury trials, including medical malpractice, personal injury, and products liability actions. Justice Wade also manages an extensive motion calendar, and presides over criminal arraignments.

Highly regarded in the legal community, she has a reputation for her exceptional knowledge of the law, judicial temperament, her integrity and fairness. One of her greatest achievements is following in the footsteps and promoting the legacy of her father, deceased retired Supreme Court Justice George E. Wade, Jr., who served the residents of Kings County, with distinction until he was 76 years old. Her twin sister, Cheryl Wade-King, is also an attorney.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, she attended Brooklyn College and St. John’s University School of Law.

HON. DELORES J. THOMAS

The Honorable Delores J. Thomas is a native Alabamian. She was born in Boligee, Alabama, where she attended public schools and graduated with honors from Eutaw High School in 1972. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in political science with honors from Alabama State University in 1975 and a juris doctor degree from the University of Georgia Law School in 1978. Justice Thomas is admitted to the state and federal bars in Georgia and New York.

After law school, Justice Thomas moved to New York where she began her legal career. Her experience includes: Staff and Management Attorney in the Housing, Immigration and Unemployment Law Units with Brooklyn Legal Services, Corporation B (1978-1994) and Corporation A (1988-1990); Administrative Law Judge with the New York City Parking Bureau (1987-1994); and President/Organizer for the Legal Services Staff Association, Dist. 65, UAW (1986-1989). In March 1994, Justice Thomas was appointed as a Judge in the Housing Part of Civil Court where she handled matters relating to landlord and tenant issues. She was reappointed to a second five-year term in 1999.

In November 2002, she was elected to the Civil Court bench and became the first black person to be elected to a countywide judgeship in Kings County. In Civil Court, Justice Thomas presided over bench and jury trials dealing with a wide range of legal matters originating in Civil Court and matters referred by the New York Supreme Court.

Justice Thomas was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2006. In January 2007, she was assigned to the Matrimonial Trial Part. Justice Thomas is currently one of six matrimonial judges in Kings County. Professional memberships include the Judicial Friends, the National Association of Women Judges, the New York State Bar Association, the Brooklyn Bar Association, the Brooklyn Womens Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, the Columbian Lawyers Association and State and City Association of Supreme Court Justices (ASCJ). She also serves as the Recording Secretary for the Kings County branch of the ASCJ.

Justice Thomas expresses her faith at the Greater Bright Light Missionary Baptist Church where she serves as President of the Mass Choir and President of the Trustee Board. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Eastern Star Organization and Church Women United, Inc.

HON. LIZETTE COLON

Hon. Lizette Colon is an Acting Supreme Court Justice of the State of New York, assigned to handle just about all discovery matters in Kings County, Civil Term. As a Civil Court Judge of the City of New York, Judge Colon was assigned to the Consumer Debt Part in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Judge Colon is the Past President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild, the current Puerto Rican Bar Association chair of the veteran’s committee, an On Your Mark board member (NFP assisting the developmentally disabled) and a LTC (retired) Army Reserve.

Judge Colon’s career in the courthouse commenced as a Court Interpreter (Spanish) in 1991. Her parents arrived in NYC from the island of Puerto Rican and although she was born and raised in NYC, she retained her ethnic language and culture. In 1996 after taking a promotional civil service exam, Lizette was promoted to Senior Court Clerk and assigned to Supreme Court Criminal Term New York County. She attended law school at night, while working full time as a Senior Court Clerk. Lizette received her JD from Brooklyn Law School in 1998 and worked as a Court Attorney before becoming a judge, first assisting unrepresented litigants and then for a civil court judge.

Judge Colon joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1984 and became an officer in the Military Intelligence Corp. She was mobilized for the Global War on Terror, serving on active duty from 2003 to 2005 in support of special operations, both in the Pentagon and Iraq.

Judge Colon is the mother of an adult autistic son that keeps her young at heart. In her spare time she loves to scuba dive.

HON. THERESA M. CICCOTTO

I was elected to the Civil Court in 2013. I sat in Civil Court, Kings County prior to being elevated to Supreme Court as an Acting Supreme Court Justice. I was first assigned to the Civil Term, where I heard cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability, breach of contract, labor law and more. This is my third year sitting in Matrimonial Term and I believe I have found my niche. In Matrimonial Term, I address impending divorce and post divorce cases. I deal with issues involving the custody of and visitation with children and also interact on occasion with physicians and other “experts.” I love Matrimonial because it affords me the opportunity to interact directly with litigants and children. I talk with people and listen to their positions, expectations and fears. I can work with them, attorneys and other significant people to arrive at a workable and palatable resolution. It is here that I can and do really help people.

I attended all City schools. I began my legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, where as a Senior Trial Assistant, I prosecuted and tried numerous cases. I then went on to practice criminal defense as an Associate in a criminal defense firm. I also worked on the18B Criminal Defense Panel, defending indigent people accused of crimes. Subsequent to these positions, I became a Principal Court Attorney to two Acting Supreme Court Justices. In this capacity, I was exposed to Criminal, Civil and Matrimonial Law. I advised the Judges on legal issues and drafted decisions concerning all aspects of law.

I am a former President of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and sit on the Boards of several organizations. I have served as a Trustee on the Board of the Brooklyn Bar Association and Brooklyn Bar Foundation. I have also served on the Brooklyn Bar Grievance Committee. Moreover, I am a Master of the Nathan R. Sobel Kings County American Inn of Court, a member of the Columbian Lawyers Association, the Catholic Lawyers Guild, the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association, Lambda Legal Defense Fund, as well as various other organizations. I am a former Delegate to the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, and have co-chaired its Criminal Law Committee, Continuing Legal Education Committee and Awards Committee.

I have been the recipient of several awards for my service to the community. I enjoy reading and collecting vintage wristwatches.

HON. WILLIAM F. MASTRO, J.S.C


ABOUT THE DEMOCRATIC JUDICIAL NOMINATING CONVENTION of 2020

The team of Judicial Delegate candidates from Neighbors for Judicial Transparency were informed on August 1, 2020 of the results of the June 23, 2020 election. 17 of our slate of 22 candidates won the competitive election, including Delegates Elizabeth Adams, Jessica Baker Vodoor, Victoria Cambranes, Daeha Ko, Waleska Layes, Francois Olivas, Julie Torres Moskovitz, Michele Kaufman and Alternate Delegates Lisa Bloodgood, Elana Ehrenberg, Kevin Lacherra, Anna Poe-Kest, Nick Rizzo, Hilary “Sabine” Rogers, Alexandra Tuai, William Vega, and Marcos Masri.

However, while being notified of this outcome by Jeffrey Feldman, convener of the 2020 Democratic Judicial Convention, we were also informed that due to COVID, the party was requesting that delegations from each Assembly District should not attend the convention, and instead hand over our proxies to no more than two participants from each assembly district.

Notably missing from this email was ANY information about the state Supreme Court judicial candidates that delegates would be voting on. Also, the convention is being held this coming Thursday evening, leaving extremely little time to determine who these candidates are and research their background.

Below is the reply of our team to Mr. Feldman.

AN OPEN LETTER TO JEFFREY C. FELDMAN, CONVENER OF THE 2020 DEMOCRATIC JUDICIAL CONVENTION IN THE 2ND JUDICIAL DISTRICT

Dear Mr. Feldman, Convener of the 2020 Democratic Judicial Convention for the 2nd Judicial District:

As judicial delegate and alternate delegate candidates in the 50th Assembly District, we acknowledge receipt of your email.

However, we also wish to acknowledge our frustration at the message it contains.

17 of the 22 judicial delegates and alternate candidates duly elected in the 50th Assembly District petitioned and ran for these positions because our community wants to have a voice in the selection of New York Supreme Court justices that receive the nomination of the Democratic Party. While we acknowledge the challenge of convening a convention amidst the backdrop of the COVID pandemic, we are disappointed that you have sent us an email encouraging our non-participation in elected roles that we campaigned for on a platform of transparency and community engagement.

Our priorities for the selection of New York’s Supreme Court judicial candidates are detailed here.

We are dismayed and perplexed that your email contains no information about any of the candidates being considered for nomination. Nor is any report provided from a judicial screening committee of the party. How are we expected to sign away our vote to a proxy holder with no information provided by the party regarding who the candidates will be? Two days between election certification and holding the convention leaves literally no time for research on the candidates’ background, even if you had informed us of their names. Why is this process being so rushed?

We have heard via unofficial channels that the Executive Committee of the party will be meeting this week to pre-select the candidates and that our role as elected delegates will be only to rubber-stamp choices already made without our involvement. We object to our community’s voices and input being removed from this process. Our neighbors sent us to the convention to participate and represent their concerns.

Mr. Feldman- we call our party’s attention to the months of protest in the streets of our borough. Our community is crying out for serious reform of our criminal justice system.

Our coalition called Neighbors for Judicial Transparency desires a more interactive process. We want the Kings County Judicial Convention to be more than a mere formality. Judicial delegates should represent and engage with their neighbors and have a real vote to select these critical members of New York’s justice system. There should be engagement between the judicial candidates and the elected delegates prior to us being requested to vote for them. There should be a robust discussion within the members of our party about the priorities our party has for our justice system and to seek consensus around why we are voting to support the candidates brought before us.

We plan to attend the convention in person, in an effort to advocate for transparency and participation. We will respect social distancing rules and will wear face coverings. We understand that many other delegates may choose to send their proxy.

We will not.

We will, in support of reducing the density of the event, agree to hold proxies of any other delegates who would like us to represent their votes based on the priorities listed at the link shared above.

We look forward to the convention and those of us duly elected will see you on August 6th in Marine Park. We will also be sharing this message publicly with our community.

Best regards,

Alex Tuai
Andano D Ocana Sr
Anna Poe-Kest
Daeha Ko
Elana Ehrenberg
Elizabeth Adams
Eric Kun
Francoise Olivas
Jessica Baker Vodoor
Julie Torres Moskovitz
Kevin LaCherra
Lisa Bloodgood
Marcos Masri
Michele Kaufman
Mike Gluck
Nick Rizzo
Sabine Rogers
Samuel Gray
Victoria Cambranes
Victoria Rich
Waleska Layes
William Vega

The selection of New York Supreme Court judges is traditionally handled by political appointees. We don’t like the fact that this process normally happens without voters knowing about it. We believe we all deserve to VOTE for who’s picking the Supreme Court judges. Supreme Court judges in New York can dramatically affect all of our lives. Normally, no one runs against the political appointees and their names for Judicial Delegates don’t often appear on the ballot. You might not even know Supreme Court judges are being selected!

That’s exactly how it always works, and we think this should change and be more transparent to voters.

These candidates are regular Brooklyn people who want to open up this closed system. They want all voters to know more about how our Supreme Court Judges are appointed, and they want the voice of our neighbors to be included in this process.

Please meet our team of candidates!

JUDICIAL DELEGATE CANDIDATES

Elizabeth Adams– Franklin Street
Elizabeth Adams grew up in New York City and moved to North Brooklyn after college, almost 10 years ago. She is a longtime advocate for social justice and reproductive freedom working for Planned Parenthood, is a former educator, and currently works in public service in the NYC Council. Elizabeth is a Democratic County Committee member and running to be the next Council Member and first woman elected to the 33rd District in Brooklyn. 

Jessica Baker Vodoor– Waverly Avenue
Jessica Baker Vodoor is the Vice President, Operations at the New 42nd Street, caring for historic theaters in Times Square. She has lived in NYC since 1998 and has called Brooklyn home since 2006. She is a member of the Kings County Committee and New Kings Democrats and is the Treasurer for the 50th Assembly District Committee. Jessica has served previously as an Alternate Judicial Delegate. As a community activist, she is passionate about improving the Democratic party, and has organized with #RepYourBlock and The Vision Project. Jessica is married and has a cat named Foxy.

Victoria Cambranes– Franklin Street
Victoria Cambranes is a Digital Marketing and Communications Consultant, and 2021 candidate for City Council 33. A born and raised Greenpointer, she has been an active participant in local politics and community activism throughout the 50th AD. Whether fighting for environmental and housing justice, or pushing for transparency and reform to our local Community Board, Victoria strives to bring truly progressive change for all our residents. 

Michele Kaufman– Withers Street
A native New Yorker, Michele graduated from Pitzer College in Southern California, where she majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Gender and Feminist Studies. She’s the Director of Events at Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm and has been a Brooklyn resident since 2013. Michele is a Kings County Committee member, Secretary of the 50th Assembly District Committee, and an active member of New Kings Democrats. She gets excited talking about curbside composting, and if you have a dog, she’s probably stopped you on Graham Ave. to pet it!

Daeha Ko
Daeha Ko is a local community activist in Greenpoint and resident since 2012. A graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, he is a member of Kings County Committee and the 50th Assembly District Committee. An IT specialist and web developer, Daeha sits on the steering committee of the People’s Tech Alliance, an NYC-based civic tech organization that incubates technologies co-created with grassroots progressive advocates, coalitions, and organizations.

Eric Kun
Eric was born and raised in NYC and presently is serving his fithh term on Kings County Committee. He was elected as Judicial Delegate in 2019 and attended the Kings County Judicial Convention. He is a North Brooklyn community activist, and he serves as the Director of Operations at North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats. Eric is running because he believes we deserve judges who answer to the community and are elected by the community, not the Brooklyn Democratic party machine.

Waleska Layes
My name is Waleska Layes but most people know me as Wally. I’m 59 years old and married to Dave Ocaña . I’m Puerto Rican  born and raised in the south side known also Los Sures. I was fortunate enough to even go to school in the neighborhood too. I retired from a city job which I worked 23 years in the NYPD as a civilian 911 caller taker/dispatcher/ Spanish interpreter where I had the opportunity to meet and interact with wonderful individuals that made a wonderful impact. That led me to get involved with DC37 Local 1549 where I was a delegate and shop steward for 16 years. I was on the board for 2 terms too, which I loved. I made ways to get involved in other organizations such as a NYPD Hispanic organization where I also was a delegate for 2 terms. I’m currently involved with the CB1, 94 Pct counsel monthly meeting, North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats, New Kings Democrats, and I’m a mentor for teenagers at the Grand Street Campus HS. I run a tenant association, which I’m the chair person. I’m an elected official of the office of county community at District 50. I love to travel, shop, watch movies, go camping, listen to music (specially salsa), try different kind of foods, and hang out on the beach. I love animals (especially dogs) which I have 3 and also have a parrot. I’m a grandma of 2 beautiful grandkids. Once in while, I like to babysit kids too.

Andano “Dave” Ocaña
My name is Andano David Ocaña, but my friends call me Dave. I was born in Manhattan and raise in the Bronx. I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn where I now reside with the love of my life in 2007. I have 2 children and I’m also a proud grandfather of 2 beautiful grandchildren. I retired from the NYPD in 2006 after serving 20 years in the city I love the most ( NYC) as a transit police officer, and finished my career with the NYPD. I’m also a retired veteran of 23 years with the US Army as a Sergeant First Class. I was also involved in a youth organization called (UDC) Uptown Development Coalition in the Bronx. It was an NCAA Sanctioned league/organization. Our motto was Building Character through Sports. We ran a Basketball league with of up to 75 – 80 teams. Now that I’m retired in my present time, I’m involved in numerous community organizations such as Community Board 1, 94 Pct Community Council, North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats and New Kings Democrats. I’m also an Elected Official with the Office of County Committee in the 50th district of Brooklyn. I’m a mentor at the Grand Street Campus H.S. where we talk to young students and help prepare them for the next very important steps in their lives. 

Francoise Olivas– Kent Street

Victoria Rich– Monitor Street
Victoria Rich is a lifelong New Yorker and has been a resident of North Brooklyn since 2000. She is a member of Kings County Committee and New Kings Democrats. She works in the photo industry and as an art educator. 

Julie Torres Moscovitz- Jackson Street
She is principal of Fete Nature Architecture, her own architecture firm in Williamsburg with 4 employees. Her expertise is in climate adaptation – sustainability, passive house, and resilient architecture. FNA also focuses on environmental, economic and social justice projects. She teaches a seminar (Eco Urban Systems: Energy, Waste & Resilient Networks) at Syracuse University NYC campus. She is a Taconic Fellow at Pratt Center for environmental justice work with street vendors. She has lived in Williamsburg since 2000 with her husband who is an NYC public school teacher, organizer of our block party, and membership coordinator for many years at Red Shed Community Garden. Julie is a co-chair of her tenant association and in 2018 was named as a public member to the NYC Loft Law board. She is running for County Committee in 2020 for her neighborhood. She is a life-long activist and is on the Advisory Board for the Street Vendor Project and active in the AIA Committee on the Environment, New King Democrats, and as a participant in AD50 community meetings. Julie is mom to a 16 year-old who is born and raised in Williamsburg. She believes in justice and equity for all, and understands the importance of participation in local, state, and federal politics. 

ALTERNATE DELEGATE CANDIDATES

Lisa Bloodgood- Roebling Street
A North Brooklyn resident since 2006, Lisa is currently the Director of Advocacy and Education with Newtown Creek Alliance, where she is focused on restoration efforts, urban ecology, and environmental justice. Prior to working for NCA, she spent a number of years working for the New York City Council as a legislative aide with special focus on North Brooklyn and it’s myriad environmental issues. Currently, she serves as the NY Co-Chair for the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program’s Community Advisory Council, on both the Steering and Technical Committees for the EPA’s Newtown Creek Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG), is an active member of Mt. Sinai’s Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures, Stakeholder Advisory Board, Co-Chair of North Brooklyn Neighbors Board of Directors, and is active in the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Initiative Committee. Lisa has a degree in Earth and Environmental Science from Brooklyn College, loves her community garden La Casita Verde in Los Sures Williamsburg, and is a cycling advocate.

Elana Ehrenberg- Eagle Street
Elana Ehrenberg has lived in Greenpoint for the past 4 years and North Brooklyn for the last 8. She’s currently the Chair of the 50th Assembly District Committee made up of County Committee representatives in the Kings County Democratic Party in North Brooklyn. Elana is the Program Manager at Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit focused on public space equity and accessibility. Her background is in community engagement and has previously worked at NYC Ferry and the NYC Council. Elana would like to see a more transparent and democratic judicial system, one that is non-partisan and voted in by the general public.

Michael Gluck– Union Avenue
Michael Gluck is a native New Yorker who has called North Brooklyn home for the last ten years. He works as a Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society, where he’s been representing low-income New Yorkers in the courtroom since 2015. Prior to graduating Cardozo Law School, Mike worked for a democratic congressman representing parts of Brooklyn and Queens. He worked on community issues large and small, and handled constituent services involving housing, poverty, veterans and military affairs. Mike has served on Brooklyn’s Democratic County Committee since 2012. He is a member of New Kings Democrats and North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats. Mike believes that Brooklyn deserves a more progressive, transparent judiciary comprised of judges whose values and decision making reflect those of the community, not the political machine.

Samuel Gray – Graham Avenue

Kevin LaCherra- Meserole Avenue
Kevin LaCherra is a proud 4th generation Greenpointer and an archivist for NY State. His family has been on Meserole Avenue since 1899. He has recently been involved with fighting the North Brooklyn Pipeline, for safer streets and public space under the BQE, and in building and growing the North Brooklyn Mutual Aid Network. He’s excited to get to work shining a light on how we pick our judges. 

Anna Poe-Kest- Lorimer Street

Nick Rizzo– Freeman Street
Nick Rizzo has been a Greenpoint resident since 2008 and has a bachelors degree in philosophy and politics from NYU. A founding member of New Kings Democrats in 2008, he founded North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats in 2017. In 2014 he was elected male Democratic district leader (state committeeman) for the 50th assembly district, a title he continues to hold. His professional experience is varied–journalism, ad sales, strategic communications–but primarily concentrated in the service industry and political campaigns.

Hilary “Sabine” Rogers – Graham Avenue
Sabine Rogers is a native New Yorker who has lived in Williamsburg since 2002. She has been a member of  the Kings County Democratic Committee since 2018. Sabine is a graduate of Oberlin College, and currently works as a film, photography and commercial producer.

Alexandra Tuai- Huron Street
Alex is a born and bred Seattlite who moved to New York for school in 2015. She is a new addition to the wonderful Greenpoint neighborhood but is looking forward to learning and working together for a more accountable and transparent democratic judicial system. She is a big lover of the ocean, hates driving with a passion, and has probably waved to your dog as she walked down Franklin.

William Vega– Jackson Street
I have lived in Williamsburg since 2005.  Coming here from the Lower Eastside and Long Island City, Queens, I immediately felt like I was home.  At the time with over 20 years of experience working in city government at Small Business Services, assisting hundreds of small businesses to survive and thrive in our City, I got involved in our community with environmental issues, parks/public spaces, the community board and local politics.  I began to feel such a strong sense of commitment to the well-being of our community at large I joined the North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats.  Because of my commitment to the organization and community I was recently voted to be President.  With fellow County Committee Members, we created the first Assembly District Committee, ADC50, which I serve as Vice Chair.  On June 18th, I will be sworn in as a Community Board Member, CB-1

Marcos Masri– Wilson Street


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