History was made today at the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department when arguments on appeal were heard for the first time by an all-Black bench in the court’s historic courtroom in Brooklyn. Associate Justice Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, who sits on the court’s constitutional bench and has served as an associate justice of the Second Judicial Department since April 2016, presided. The bench, from left to right: Hon. William G. Ford, Hon. Cheryl E. Chambers, Hon. Valerie Brathwaite Nelson (Justice Presiding) and Hon. Paul Wooten. Photo by David Handschuh/OCA
The Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department here in Brooklyn reached a milestone on September 9 when it seated its first all-Black bench to hear oral arguments in its history.
The bench that day consisted of Hon. Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, Hon. Cheryl Chambers, Hon. William G. Ford, and Hon. Paul Wooten. Justice Brathwaite Nelson served as presiding judge and the panel heard 20 cases that varied from criminal appeals to Family Court matters, and employment disputes.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, located in Brooklyn Heights, is an appellate court above the New York State Supreme Court and below the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. It is the highest volume court of the four appellate courts.
The Appellate Term made similar news last May when Hon. Wavny Toussaint, Hon. Cheree Buggs and Hon. Michelle Weston became the first all-Black woman panel in the Second Department’s history.