The Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission regularly partners with local Bar Associations that work to improve diversity in the legal profession. One such partner is the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens (SAICBA-Q), which was established in 2017 to bring together attorneys of South Asian Indo-Caribbean descent who are from Queens or practice in the borough.

The Commission collaborated with the SAICBA-Q in April 2021 for a panel discussion entitled “Advancing Equity in the New York State Courts,” which aimed to increase awareness regarding efforts being made within the New York State’s Unified Court System to address issues of racial and ethnic fairness.

The virtual program, which provided continuing legal education credits, was mediated by the Vice-President of SAICBA-Q, Hon. Andrea Ogle. At the date of the program Judge Ogle was an attorney but she was elected a judge of the New York City Civil Court Queens County and assumed office January 1, 2022.

A decorated panel discussed the Report on Equal Justice in New York State Courts compiled by Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, with a focus on implementing the Report’s recommendations. Panelists included Amitav Chakraborty, Esq. from the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives; and Tony Walters, Director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

The Co-Chairs of the Commission, Hon. Troy K. Webber and Hon. Shirley Troutman, contextualized Secretary Johnson’s recent report by contrasting it with the initial 1991 Report on racial and ethnic fairness in the courts which led to the establishment of the Commission as a permanent entity in the Courts. Their discussion highlighted the Commission’s ongoing programs and initiatives, all of which are designed to ensure there is meaningful progress in judicial fairness and racial justice.