Black History Month Celebration
In July 2020, prominent Caribbean American Justice Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix was elected president of the newly-formed, Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Lawyers Association (CALA).
Barbadian-born Justice Hinds-Radix, who serves as an Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, told Caribbean Life that CALA was formed after she was contacted by a few Caribbean attorneys who wanted to see a bar association that reflected the Caribbean Diaspora.
Justice Hinds-Radix, a former administrative judge for Civil Matters in the Second Judicial District, said CALA’s vice president, Yvette Hinds-Wills, specifically reached out to her, “because she had this burning desire to form such a bar association.
“Collectively, they believed it was timely and necessary, both in the legal profession and in the community as a whole,” Justice Hinds-Radix said.
Similar to other bar associations, she said CALA intends to serve the community by providing legal information; mentorship of young attorneys and those who want to become attorneys; conducting courses informing people of their individual rights.
“The association intends to continue the growth and promotion of the law, within the Caribbean community, to get young people the necessary exposure early on to understand how they can become lawyers, judges and community leaders,” Justice Hinds-Radix said.
She said this can be accomplished by “going into schools on career days, working with churches and other community organizations to provide information on the issues that impact our community the most, such as immigration, housing, elder abuse, etc.”
Justice Hinds-Radix said CALA’s long-term goals include having “seasoned mentors who can guide young attorneys to ensure that they are fully familiar with their ethical responsibilities.
“This is extremely important during these times,” she said. “Young attorneys need to understand that they are held to a higher standard ethically; and, if they go afoul, they must have the resources and the knowledge necessary, so they do not lose their licenses to practice law.”
In addition, Justice Hinds-Radix said the formation of CALA is “a great opportunity to make the legal community familiar with the lawyers and judges, of Caribbean descent, who live, work and practice in the community.”
She said CALA’s officers, board of directors and members hail from various islands within the Diaspora, including Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, Dominica and Puerto Rico, among others.
Besides Justice Hinds-Radix and Hinds-Wills, Esq., other elected officials are: Michelle DeSouza-Forte, Esq. (2nd vice president); Carmelle Robillard, Esq. (treasurer); and Valerie I. Howell, Esq. (corresponding secretary).
The Board of Directors comprise: Natoya McGhie, Esq., president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association; Rudyard Whyte, Esq.; Sonia Blake, Esq.; Jade Edwards, Esq.; Dale Fong-Frederick, Esq.; and Justice Hinds-Radix’s daughter, Jovia Radix, Esq.
Other Board of Directors are: Judges Wavny Toussaint, Ruth Shillingford, Alvin Yearwood, Machelle Sweeting and Michele Rodney.
Justice Hinds-Radix said interacting with children and young adults is a great passion, which she incorporates with her love of the law by being a mentor and advisor to those who seek a career in the legal profession.
Justice Hinds-Radix, a graduate of Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., said that, every year, she participates in career day programs at several schools, where she educates young people on a career in law and the function of the judiciary.
In her role as administrative judge, she said she developed a summer internship program for law students, where over 120 students, annually, were able to participate in workshops and visit other courts to observe to learn the role of each court.
This program is in addition to the students’ interaction with their judge.
Justice Hinds-Radix epitomizes the statement, “it takes a village to raise a child,” by the outstanding work that she does in giving back to her own community.
A staunch advocate for children’s education, every Saturday morning, the Justice Hinds-Radix said she and her family tutor young people at the Brooklyn-based Barbados Ex-Police Association.
She is also a former President of the Nathan K. Sobel American Inns of Court, the Second Vice President of The Judicial Friends, a Board Member of the Women in the Courts Committee and a member of the Board of Directors for the St. Gabriel’s Senior Citizens Center and the St. John’s Bread and Life Agency.
Justice Hinds-Radix served as the President of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and the Supreme Court Justice of the City of New York.
She is also a member of several organizations including the Brooklyn Bar Association, the New York State Association of Supreme Court Justices, the New York State Bar Association, Catholic Lawyers Guild, Columbian Lawyers of Brooklyn, the Association of Black Women Attorneys, the New York County Lawyers Association, JALBCA, Puerto Rican Bar Association, Latino Judges Association, The Tribune Society, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, the National Bar Association’s Judicial Section and the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc., as well as being an active participant in several workshops conducted at the Judicial Institute.
Justice Hinds-Radix is the recipient of many awards, including The Gold Crown of Merit, which was conferred upon her by the Governor General of Barbados on the nation’s celebration of its 39th anniversary of its independence, one of the nation’s highest honors.
She has also been honored with the Shirley Chisholm Award given to her by the Barbados Consulate in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Barbados’ Independence.
She has been honored with the Golda Meir Award, bestowed upon Justice Hinds-Radix by the Jewish Lawyers Guild, as well as the Beatrice M. Judge Award and the Sybil Hart Kooper Award by the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, the Distinguished Judiciary Award and the President’s Award by the Catholic Lawyers Guild, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora and was named one of the Top Women in Business by the Home Reporter.
Justice Hinds-Radix is also the recipient of the 2019 New York State Bar Association’s Diversity Trailblazer Award.
Justice Hinds-Radix earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts and her Master’s degree in political science from Long Island University.
In addition to being admitted to practice law in the State of New York, Justice Hinds-Radix is also admitted to the United States Federal Court: Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
Justice Hinds-Radix is married to Grenadian-born dentist, Dr. Joseph Radix, and they are the proud parents of three wonderful daughters.