Promoting Racial & Ethnic Fairness in the Courts

 

UCS Mission Statement

NY State SealThe mission of the Unified Court System (UCS) is to deliver equal justice under the law and to achieve the just, fair and timely resolution of all matters that come before our courts.

In the service of our mission, the UCS is committed to operating with integrity and transparency, and to ensuring that all who enter or serve in our courts are treated with respect, dignity and professionalism. We affirm our responsibility to promote a court system free from any and all forms of bias and discrimination and to promote a judiciary and workforce that reflect the rich diversity of New York State.

 


 

Contact

Image of Franklin H. Williams

Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission

25 Beaver St.
New York, NY 10004

Phone: 212-428-2790
Email: FHWilliams@nycourts.gov

 

Mission

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission educates and advises decision makers in the New York Court System on issues affecting both employees and litigants of color, and implements recommendations developed to address said issues.

Created in 1988, the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities (now known as the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission) conducted a comprehensive study on minority participation in the courts and legal profession and perceptions regarding the treatment of minorities in the courts. In 1991, the Commission released a detailed report of findings and recommendations and was established as a permanent entity charged with the responsibility for developing programs to improve the perception of fairness within the court system and to ensure equal justice in New York State. The members of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission are judges, lawyers and court administrators all appointed by the Chief Judge of the State of New York.

Commission Members

 

 

What's New

InterviewWithCapitolPressroom

Nov. 4, 2022 - For more than three decades the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission has been tasked with advising the state court system on issues affecting people of color, including litigants and legal professionals. Mary Lynn Nicolas-Brewster, executive director of the commission, speaks with David Lombardo on the disparate experience in the court system and why representation on the bench matters.

 


Hiring

Demystifying the OCA Hiring Process

 


 

Symposium on Race

Symposium on Race

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission held its Symposium on Race in June 2022.  The symposium had two primary focuses: (1) the first panel illuminated modern systemic racism’s roots in slavery and legally codified racial discrimination, and (2) the second panel identified solutions for eradicating systemic racism through the law. The keynote speakers were Pulitzer-winning historian, Professor Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard Law School, and Hon. Denny Chin, United States Circuit Judge United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

 


 

Diversity Awards

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission Diversity Awards Night

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, the Franklin H. Williams Commission hosted the 2021 Diversity Awards program in recognition of New York judges, lawyers and legal professionals who have made significant contributions to further racial and ethnic fairness in the courts and justice system. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina G. Mendelson joined the Williams Commission co-chairs, Hon. Troy K. Webber and Hon. Shirley Troutman, and the Diversity Awards Committee co-chairs, Hon. Lenora Foote Beavers and Nadine C. Johnson, to honor the 2021 recipients and reflect on the impactful work of the Commission. The Williams Commission honored eleven individuals from within and outside the court system for their efforts to advance the principles of diversity, equality and justice. The Commission is proud to recognize the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to achieving racial and ethnic fairness in the courts, the community, and the legal profession. This year, the Commission celebrates its 30th anniversary as a permanent entity dedicated to ensuring racial and ethnic fairness within the courts and legal profession.

 


 

2021 Diversity Awards Recipients
Dr. Jodie Roure, Director, Diversity Prelaw Pipeline Programs, John Jay College
Pipeline to Equity in Legal Education and the Profession Award

Jasmine I. Valle, Principal Law Clerk, New York State Unified Court System
Advancement of Diversity Award

Joy Anastasia Thompson, Assistant General Counsel, New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings
Leading the Way Award

Lillian M. Moy, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York
Outstanding Legal Services Award

Donald Edwards, New York State Court Officer, Bronx County Supreme Court
Shattering Racial Ceiling Award

John Caher, Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, New York State Unified Court System
Special Commendation Award

Hon. Randolph F. Treece, Of Counsel, E. Steward Jones Hacker Murphy LLP and Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge for Northern District of New York
Trailblazer Award

Joyce Y. Hartsfield, former Executive Director, Franklin H. Williams Commission
Drum Major for Justice Award

Hon. La Tia W. Martin, Supreme Court Justice, Bronx County
Hon. Sheila Abdus-Salaam Outstanding Jurist Award

Hon. Lewis L. Douglass, Retired Supreme Court Justice, Kings County, and former Chair of Franklin H. Williams Commission
Founders Award

Hon. Samuel L. Green, Retired Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Fourth Dept.
Bridge to Justice Award

Please click on the link below to view the Awards Journal for more information about each of the eleven inspiring awardees and the work of the Williams Commission over the last thirty years.

Thirtieth Anniversary-Diversity Awards Journal

 


 

The Impact of Racism on Mental Health

Video

Racism, both intentional and unintentional, affects the health and well-being of individuals and communities. This three-hour webinar provides information on how systemic racism is connected to one's mental health and well-being and discusses the ways in which to address systemic policies and practices that undermine mental health. This program was sponsored by the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission and the New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives and co-sponsored by the Latino Judges Association, Bronx County Bar Association, Bronx Women’s Bar Association, Puerto Rican Bar Association, Dominican Bar Association and the Bronx Family Court Bar Association. The program’s keynote speaker was Dr. Karinn A. Glover, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Attending, Adult Outpatient Psychiatry Division, Montefiore Hospital, Bronx, New York.

 


Town Hall 4

Video

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission held its fourth Town Hall in May 2022 with keynote speaker, Secretary Jeh Johnson, Special Adviser on Equal Justice in the Courts, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.  This Town Hall provided an opportunity to update the court family on the Court’s implementation of the recommendations of the Special Adviser on Equal Justice and to engage in an ongoing dialogue of address the systemic barriers to racial and ethnic fairness in the courts.  

 

FHWJC Town Hall meeting

Video

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission held its third Town Hall on the anniversary of the release of the Report of the Special Adviser on Equal Justice, to provide an update on the Court’s implementation of the recommendations of the Special Adviser on Equal Justice and to engage in an ongoing dialogue of address the systemic barriers to racial and ethnic fairness in the courts.

 

FHWJC Town Hall meeting

Video

On March 11, 2021, the Commission held Part 2 of our continuing dialogue on systemic racism and bias in the courts, providing those who attended to actively participate by directing questions to panelists. The entire Town Hall was dedicated to questions and answers from the attendees.

 

FHWJC Town Hall meeting

Video | Transcript

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, which is celebrating its Thirtieth Anniversary this year as a permanent commission in the New York State court system promoting racial and ethnic fairness in the courts, held a recent Town Hall to provide the court family an opportunity to engage in honest and meaningful dialogue with the goal of eradicating systemic racism and bias from our court system, discuss the implementation of the recommendations in Secretary Johnson’s Report, address issues faced by members of the court system and find possible solutions to those issues. Professor Deborah N. Archer, Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Faculty Director of the Center on Race Inequality and the Law at New York University School of Law, and a nationally recognized expert in civil rights and racial justice, served as the Town Hall’s keynote speaker.

 

Community/Youth Outreach

 

Jury Diversity

Pathways to Jury Diversity Video


 

Civic Engagement Program

Civic Engagement Program Video

 

Hate is a Virus Too

Hate is a virus too

FHW Youth Initiative Forum - May 15, 2020
Video | Transcript | Flyer


More What's New

 


Contact

25 Beaver St.
New York, NY 10004

Phone: 212-428-2790
Fax: 212-428-2792

To communicate concerns respecting diversity, racial and ethnic fairness within the court system to the Commission, please feel free to email us at fhwilliams@nycourts.gov.

Please be further advised that in order to file a complaint of bias or discrimination, you must contact the Inspector General - Office of the Managing Inspector General for Bias Matters at 646-386-3507, via email at ig@nycourts.gov or visit their website at http://ww2.nycourts.gov/admin/ig/index.shtml

 

Overview

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission educates and advises decision makers in the New York Court System on issues affecting both employees and litigants of color, and implements recommendations developed to address said issues.

Created in 1988, the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities (now known as the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission) conducted a comprehensive study on minority participation in the courts and legal profession and perceptions regarding the treatment of minorities in the courts. In 1991, the Commission released a detailed report of findings and recommendations and was established as a permanent entity charged with the responsibility for developing programs to improve the perception of fairness within the court system and to ensure equal justice in New York State. The members of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission are judges, lawyers and court administrators all appointed by the Chief Judge of the State of New York.

Commission Members

 

The Work Continues

The Commission continues its pursuit of equal justice:

  • Serving as a conduit to persons of color within the court system, meeting annually with the Chief Judge and court administrators to discuss issues of concern to court employees and matters pertaining to racial and ethnic fairness in the courts.
  • Sponsoring seminars and conferences for Judges and court personnel on issues of diversity and race within the courts.
  • Holding professional development and leadership workshops for court personnel and providing judicial mentors for attorneys interested in judicial appointments
  • Acting as a liaison to community groups, fraternal organizations within the court, bar associations and judicial appointing authorities.
  • Producing and distributing various publications, including a newsletter.
  • Hosting the Diversity Awards program honoring individuals and organizations working to promote racial and ethnic fairness in the New York State Unified Court System and the legal community.
  • Presenting a class for new judges on cultural awareness at the New York State Judicial Institute training session for new judges.

Meet the New Executive Director

    Headshot

Mary Lynn Nicolas-Brewster was recently named as the new executive director of the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, succeeding Joyce Y. Hartsfield.  She most recently worked as a court attorney-referee in the Ninth Judicial District.

Promoting Diversity in the Court System: Mary Lynn Nicolas-Brewster, 4/23/20

Transcript

 

       More on the New Executive Director

 

 

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore with Hon. Richard B. Lowe, Past Chair of the CommissionChief Judge Janet DiFiore with Hon. Richard B. Lowe III, Past Chair of the Commission.

 

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman with Hon. Rose H. Sconiers, Past Chair of the CommissionFormer Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman with Hon. Rose H. Sconiers, Past Chair of the Commission

 

Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye with Hon. Lewis Douglass (Past Chair of the Commission)
Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye with Hon. Lewis Douglass (Past Chair of the Commission)

 

Former Chief Judge Sol Wachtler with Franklin H. WilliamsFormer Chief Judge Sol Wachtler with Franklin H. Williams.
Photo taken in front of the original Emancipation Proclamation on the 125th anniversary of its signing.

 

Franklin H. Williams appearing at the Court of Appeals on behalf of the New York State Commission on Minorities.Franklin H. Williams appearing at the Court of Appeals on behalf of the New York State Commission on Minorities.

 

Twitter

The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission invites you to follow us on Twitter @NYCourtsFHW

 

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