Hon. Edwina G. Richardson

Judge Edwina G. MendelsonDeputy Chief Administrative Judge
Office for Justice Initiatives

In 2017, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson was appointed to head the newly expanded New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives, tasked with ensuring meaningful access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil, criminal, and family courts, regardless of income, background, or ability. In service of this mission, the Office for Justice Initiatives administers Help Centers, self-help services, pro bono attorney and other volunteer programs, and many other resources designed to serve unrepresented court users.

Judge Richardson directs several youth and family justice initiatives, including the Unified Court System’s Child Welfare Court Improvement Project, emerging adult justice, and the ongoing implementation of the seminal law raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York State. Additionally, she is responsible for programmatic oversight of the Judiciary Civil Legal Services grant, and administers the state’s more than 300 problem-solving and accountability courts, including groundbreaking opioid courts, drug courts/judicial diversion parts, veterans’ treatment courts, mental health courts, human trafficking intervention courts, domestic violence courts, integrated domestic violence courts, juvenile treatment courts, community courts, and impaired driving courts.

Judge Richardson also leads the court system’s Equal Justice in the Courts Initiative, implementing the recommendations contained in the October 2020 Report from the Special Adviser on Equal Justice examining racial bias in the state court system, as well as the November 2020 recommendations made by the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts to enhance gender fairness in the state courts. In 2023, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the court system’s longstanding office tasked with promoting opportunities for equal employment and ensuring a diverse workforce, was added to the Office for Justice Initiatives.

Judge Richardson was appointed to the Court of Claims in 2017 and remains active on that bench, while also serving in Supreme Court Criminal Term, New York County. Previously, she presided over New York County Supreme Court’s Youth Part, hearing cases of youth charged as adults.  

Judge Richardson first joined the court system as a Court Attorney-Referee in Queens County Family Court, after representing clients in New York City Housing Court, Family Court, and Supreme Court. She later became a Family Court Judge in 2003, the Queens County Supervising Family Court Judge in 2008, and a year later, was elevated to Administrative Judge of all New York City Family Courts.

Judge Richardson is a graduate of CUNY Law School, whose motto is “Law in the Service of Human Needs.” She also holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York Graduate Center and has been an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Hofstra Law School.

She maintains active membership and leadership positions in New York bar associations and court committees advancing professional development and system improvement in the delivery and quality of justice services, and lectures nationwide to share New York’s access to equal justice practices and protocols with other jurisdictions.