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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Swears in 28 Judges Recently Appointed to Family Court, Criminal Court, and Civil Court

April 27, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, I want to thank Carmen. I will call you Judge Ciparick for the purpose of this assemblage, but I know you as Carmen from all those days and all those interviews. I want to thank you for your extraordinary leadership. You’ve done a lot for this city, a lot for this state as a great jurist. You didn’t – it didn’t take long for you to come out of retirement and immediately start this mission, and I thank you for that because you've given your heart and soul to it, and a huge amount of time. Set a lot of records along the way and achieved a lot of firsts for women and Latinos, but what you’re doing today I think is one of your finest hours because I remember when we first talked about this mission – and wanting the very, very best for our judiciary, but also wanting the judiciary to look like New York City – you said from the beginning it would take a different kind of effort – a deeper reach out into this profession and out into our communities. And you led that effort with great energy and purpose. I want to thank you. Let’s thank Carmen for all she has done.


I want to thank all of the folks who are part of this process. You heard a moment ago the [inaudible] who put so much time and energy into the process, who taught me so much about the right way to go about it. And I just want to affirm to you, I am not a lawyer. I was in the room many times surrounded by lawyers closing in on me with their great legal minds – the room about to burst with legal expertise. But throughout I used, I hope, my own common sense approach to work with my colleagues to find the very best and the brightest. But beyond Carmen, I definitely want to thank our vice chair, Barry Cozier, and our executive director, Desiree Kim, for their great efforts. Let’s thank them again.


Everyone who’s here, thank you for being a part of it. Thank you for supporting these great individuals we’ll be swearing in today. I think we are all honored by the presence of Judge Kaye. Thank you for making this an even more special occasion.


And I had the honor of working with you over the years on some of the issues we care so deeply about, about how to protect and support our children. And I just want to thank you for all you do to this day for the people of New York City and New York State.

28 judges being sworn in today – every single one of them – an extraordinary legal mind. Every single one of them – someone deeply committed to public service. And it was a joy to be in this process – I have to tell you – to hear the depth of commitment, what motivated people. I assure you, my friends – and family members will probably sigh or groan and this statement – but pretty much every one of these individuals was clear about the fact that they had that fork in the road in their life where they could have chosen a path that involved greater compensation. And some even had greater compensation for a while, and somehow escaped it and went back to public service. But what was clear throughout all 28 interviews was a burning desire to serve. And these are not easy assignments. These are grueling assignments. These are assignments that take everything you got – your mind, your heart, your soul, your stamina. And a lot of these individuals are coming back for more, a lot of people are stepping up for the first time, but all walking towards the challenge. And I want to thank them all. So, I just want to thank those who have stepped forward in service. I want to thank the family members who in that process support them. So, let us applause everyone who’s been a part of that.


So, from the beginning we said in this administration – this was true for all our appointments – we’ve had a – felt a special obligation when it came to the judiciary, given how sacred the judiciary is in our society that we wanted the very most qualified people, and we wanted people reflective of that totality of New York City. This is the very essence of democracy. You know you’re in a representative dynamic when every time the person can feel that someone like them is represented in leadership, and their voices matter, their experiences understood. And we knew from the beginning, with a very rigorous process, the focus on finding the most talented, with a deliberative and impartial process, we could achieve both the highest quality and an extraordinary degree of diversity. We knew it from the beginning, and it proved to be true throughout – excuse me – throughout the process. It is – I would argue – much more challenging to be the judge here than in many other places in this country. The complexities, the pace, the caseloads – there’s so many things here that take a particular rigor to address. We search for that. And the committee – our screening committee – a tremendous group of individuals – I want to thank all of them – put their heart and soul into finding the very best, looked under every stone, thought about every possibility to find people who could actually measure up to this very high standard. 

I came into the process after the screening committee had done a lot of work already. I had to privilege of interviewing each of these candidates. I didn’t have as much time as I ideally would have liked. As we talked about the process, it was somewhere between a deep and probing, typical personnel interview and speed dating. 


So, it was trying to get a lot done in a limited amount of time, and really understand who each person was, and what they stood for, and how they did their work. But I’m thrilled with the results. And I’m thrilled on the quality level, and the commitment level, but I’m also very moved by the diversity you will see before you today that really represents the best of New York City. The number are striking – of the 28 judges being sworn in today, 20 are women, 16 are – you can clap for that.


16 are African-American, or Latino, or Asian.


Four are members of the LGBT community.


And one of my personal favorite things to talk about – they represent all five boroughs.


So as people come up, you will recognize New York City. If you want to see a similarly representative group, you can go to your local subway station and get on a subway train. 

Each of these judges has an amazing story. It was really so moving to get to know them. I’m just going to give a couple of examples to give you a sense of the sheer experience and commitment that these individuals bring. Let me tell you about Raja Rajeswari –


– of the Criminal Court. The first Indian women to take the bench – she came from India as a teenager, has an extraordinary, extraordinary empathy for others. She speaks five languages. And she put that history as an immigrant and that ability to speak all these languages to work, helping to reach immigrants in the Staten Island communities where she served as an ADA. And she saw as her mission to give them confidence in the justice process. 

Peter Delizzo, of the Family Court – the first openly gay judge from Staten Island – has had a tremendous career in matrimonial law, has deep perceptions about family in our society today and how to work with every kind of family, and is himself a father of two.


One more – Civil Court Judge Marguerite Dougherty – she served for 18 years as a court officer and a clerk, and she aspired to take the next step. And while doing that work, put herself through Brooklyn Law School – and now, be a distinguished jurist. That’s an extraordinary path from the grassroots up. 


Everyone’s had amazing experiences. Everyone brings such [inaudible] to justice and equality. So on behalf of all 8.5 million New Yorkers – I said the other day, I have 8.5 million constituents with 8.5 million different opinions. But on this we could be united. We are thankful – we are thankful to all the people who have stepped forward into this role. Let me just say a few words in Spanish.

[Mayor de Blasio speaks in Spanish]

With that, I just want to let you know you are calificado. You can clap for the Spanish, if you like. I want each and every one to know they have reached the designation calificado – or if you’re a women, calificada

I am now going to call up in sets, according to which type of court we have. I’m going to call up first our new appointees to family court. Please step forward as your name is called. 

[Mayor de Blasio calls up judges and delivers oath of office]

Congratulations to all, and thank you, everyone.

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