A Caribbean-born civil court judge in Brooklyn has made history by being nominated by both the Kings County Democratic and Republican parties’ committees for a seat on the bench at the county’s Supreme Court.
As a result, Judge Sylvia Ash, who was born in Trinidad, to Vincentian and Grenadian parents, will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot unopposed. The simultaneous nomination makes her election automatic. She will be inaugurated in December.
“To have the nomination of both the Democratic and the Republican parties is truly an honor,” she told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview.
“My whole legal career has been one of community service and providing quality legal representation for working class people who ordinarily could not afford the high price of legal representation,” Ash said.
She said a judge’s responsibility is not only to apply the law to the facts but to understand and be sensitive to the circumstances and daily challenges of the litigants who appear before them.
“Everyone who appears in Court has a story and wants the opportunity to tell his/her story,” she said. “For those who appear before me, they will have that opportunity,” she added.
She thanked her family and friends whom she said have supported her throughout her life time and “who have played an instrumental role in my success.”
A graduate of Howard University School of Law, Judge Ash was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1985 and the United States District Court, Southern and Eastern District Courts in 1990.
On law school graduation, Ash became the first African-American to serve as a Judicial Law Clerk in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division.
In 1985, she joined the legal department of District Council 37, the largest union representing municipal employees in New York City, where she provided legal representation to the Council’s 125,000 state, city and municipal employees.
Ash is a strong advocate of children’s rights and the development of the family unit. As a practicing attorney, she worked pro bono as a victim services liaison for battered women and abused children and also provided free legal services for indigent litigants.
Judge Ash was the former General Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples’ (NAACP) Department of Social Services Branch in New York City.