In the 21st century, the American dream remains elusive to people of color, immigrants, and low-income families, due to the systemic racism that has prevailed throughout the history of our society – especially within the justice system. Equal protection under the law begins with judicial representation that reflects the communities we serve, ensuring that our decisions are fair in every case we preside over.
The struggle for justice is at the heart of my essence, instilled by my late mother, who never let the adversities she encountered dictate her potential in life. My mother, orphaned in Haiti at the age of 8 and in school at 13, immigrated to Brooklyn very poor but rich in hope, faith, determination and a spirit of hard work. Although she is a deeply spiritual woman, I don’t know if she knew that her daughter would have the opportunity to go to school in America and graduate from George Washington University Law School. . These accomplishments, along with my election as a New York State Civil Court judge, were beyond what she could have imagined.
My journey to the bench began when I was nine, facing the tragic death of my 12-year-old brother on a youth trip that culminated in a wrongful death trial in the Supreme Court. My parents tried to simultaneously navigate family court to determine the best way to raise me. I saw my parents fight for justice for my brother and I quickly understood what it meant to have a voice in the courtroom, a lawyer standing up for my rights. I saw how important it was for the judge to understand my life experiences in order to make the right decision for me, my family and the community.
I am passionate about Surrogate Court because I know intimately what it means for a generation to start from small beginnings and work hard to give the next generation a head start in life. I share the same story as many others; with strong values and a love for community, my parents made the american dream come true. They wanted to make sure that I had my fair share in life as measured by my character and my willingness to work. Parents envision that their children would realize the fruits of their labor. It is the same dream of the sharecroppers, immigrants and generations of families who built this country.
Families must feel empowered to preserve the wealth passed down from generation to generation. The surrogate court is a refuge for orphans and widows, a place for people with intellectual disabilities and minors to receive guardians and families united by adoption. The surrogate court was an integral part of protecting the inheritance that I would inherit.
Economic justice may be within reach for Brooklyn residents, who have been among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic and need a path to a secure future through the surrogate court. The past year has been unimaginable and made worse by unprecedented losses, but we are making a comeback. However, many families whose loved ones have died without wills or estate planning risk falling prey because their identities and assets are public information in the surrogate court. Historically, communities of color and vulnerable populations have sought help from the courts only to suffer economic loss amid their own emotional grief. We cannot continue to follow the same practices that have perpetuated and deepened the racial wealth gap.
I am more than capable and ready to serve as the next Brooklyn Surrogate Court Judge because I have the experience. During my four-year tenure as Acting Supreme Court Judge in Family Court, I have met families when they were in their most vulnerable condition. I have protected intimate partners, the elderly and children from abuse and domestic violence; while strengthening families through guardianship and adoptions. I also appointed and monitored lawyers to make sure they were working in the best interests of the families I entrusted to them.
Today, I am a judge of the civil court in the people’s court, working to remove obstacles to justice so that everyone becomes whole. I believe judges should step off the bench and become more involved in the community to understand public perception and restore confidence. I have created countless educational programs and workshops to expand access to justice and bridge the gap between the community and the courts.
In this era of reform, Brooklyn deserves a surrogate court judge with integrity to fight corruption, compassion to understand issues, and fairness to ensure equal justice. We need more women and people of color on the bench who understand the daily challenges families face in earning a living wage and escaping poverty.
Early voting begins June 12 and primary day is June 22; I hope I can count on your support to become the surrogate mother of the people and put families first – always.