Brooklyn civil rights attorney Caroline Cohen Tuesday night handsomely defeated three challengers in New York Democratic Primary for Brooklyn’s 6th Municipal District Judicial seat.
The district comprises the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, Park Slope, Flatbush, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Ditmas Park, Kensington and parts of Midwood.
With 96.59 percent of the polling precincts reporting, New York City Board of Elections said Cohen captured 44.24 percent of the votes.
Her nearest challenger, Grenadian lawyer, Alice Nicholson, received 22.06 percent; Nigerian American lawyer, Chinyelu Udoh received 18.75 percent; and Tehilah Berman got 14.53 percent.
“I want to thank the voters in Brooklyn’s 6th Municipal District for putting their trust in me,” Cohen told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, on Wednesday. “This victory is your victory.”
“When I am on the bench, I promise that every member of our community is treated with compassion, regardless of gender, race, religion, economic status, sexual orientation or citizenship,” she added.
Cohen said that, throughout her career, she has sought to “protect the most vulnerable.”
Educated at New York University, where she received her Master of Arts in non-profit management and Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law, where she received her juris doctorate (J.D), a law degree, Cohen said she is a senior associate at Crumiller P.C., where she defends women facing workplace discrimination.
She said her work has touched on racial, immigrant and housing discrimination. Her law firm is set to open a new practice for women facing high rates of infant mortality.
“I’m incredibly proud to have such a wide portfolio of clients,” Cohen said. “Whether I’m protecting mothers who were fired after returning from maternity leave or tenants with gaping seven-foot holes in their wall, I know that I’m fighting to ensure that everyone is treated fairly in our courts.
“I will bring that dedication and mindset to the bench,” Cohen affirmed.
She claimed that Brooklyn’s judicial system is “often inefficient and insufficiently supportive of non-English speakers.
“Long wait times at courts mean that New Yorkers are forced to return to court on multiple different days in order to be heard by a judge,” Cohen said. “This is frequently impossible for workers and the elderly, many of whom never receive a fair hearing.”
As an attorney, Cohen said she has “seen this injustice firsthand”, promising to “maintain an orderly, efficient courtroom and advocate for additional funding for interpreters.”
On the campaign trail, Cohen pledged to not charge minors as adults and to work to end cash bail.
“While some are skeptical of judicial elections, I view them as an opportunity to deeply engage our community on the issues they care about,” she said. “You’re much more likely to meet an elected judge than your congressman; these elections give our community a stake in our legal system.”
Cohen said she was found qualified by four judicial screening committees, including the New York City Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association.
Brooklyn Assemblymembers Rodneyse Bichotte and Walter Mosley, as well as District Leaders, Josue Pierre and Cory Provost had endorsed her candidacy.
Cohen said she was also supported by the Shirley Chisholm Democratic Club and Brooklyn Young Democrats. She is a member of the Ernest Skinner Political Association as well.
She said her “deep well of support” came from, among other things, her “demonstrated commitment to the Caribbean-American community in Brooklyn.”
She said she, along with her family, has been “a consistent presence” at Caribbean events, such as the annual West Indian American Day Carnival Parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway and Haitian Flag Day.
In addition, Cohen said she marched with current Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Bichotte to defend temporary protected status for Haitians immigrants immediately after President Donald J. Trump threatened to rescind their Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Furthermore, after Trump was elected, Cohen co-founded Ditmas Civic, an organization focused on, among other things, helping immigrant families in the local Flatbush community.
With her election to the bench, Cohen said she will “continue to vigorously advocate for the Caribbean community.
“Hearing people’s stories these past five years has only deepened my resolve to fight for New Yorkers throughout Brooklyn,” she said.