Even as several candidates are vying for support for Kings County Surrogate Court judge and judge of the 6th Judicial District, lawyers Edward “Ed” King and Derafim Bernadette Neckles are in a two-way “dogfight” for Civil Court judge in Kings County (Brooklyn).
In separate interviews with Caribbean Life on Monday, June 10, both have expressed confidence in emerging victorious in the June 25 Democratic Primary.
After practicing law for 35 years, Bedford-Stuyvesant resident King said he is “no stranger to hard work,” stating that he has “campaigned tirelessly in every corner of Brooklyn to be elected Civil Court judge for Kings County.”
King — who is married to Caribbean American, New York Supreme Court Justice Kathy King, the daughter of Montserrat immigrants — said he has attended over 100 meetings “to talk with friends, neighborhood groups and political clubs.”
“Supportive friends have hosted fundraisers in their living rooms and offices,” he said, adding that he has “especially enjoyed” his recent march in the Pride Day and Puerto Rican Day parades in Brooklyn “to show support for their communities and sensitivity to their causes.”
King said one can find his team of enthusiastic young workers with him at events or out on their own to distribute information, so that the public will know him and “remember to vote.”
He said he rises early at least three or four days a week to shake hands at subway stations, before starting his day in “still vigorously” representing clients.
During numerous interviews he has had on radio and with news publications, King said he lets voters know he believes that “it’s time we all had a fair shake.”
Growing up in New York City and having represented hundreds of people from all backgrounds for 35 years, King said he is “extremely knowledgeable of the law and especially sensitive to what citizens want in a judge when they come to court.”
He said he educates citizens on what the civil court is and lets them know what he considers to be the traits of a good judge, including “having someone on the bench who will listen and render a just decision.”
“To win, you have to work hard,” King said. “You have to let voters know who you are and ask for their vote. We have talked to a large and diverse group of voters from numerous neighborhoods, income levels, gender preferences, ethnicities and nationalities.
“This won’t stop until 9 pm on Primary Election day, Tuesday, June 25, when the polls are closed,” he affirmed, exuding confidence that his hard work will pay off on Election Day.
Above all, he urged, “Get out there and vote!”
Neckles, on the other hand, told Caribbean Life that her campaign is “thriving, and we’re hoping for a victory.”
“As we approach the count down to the June 25 Primary, we are getting the message out in the community that I am the best candidate for the countywide Civil Court seat,” the Grenadian-born court attorney referee said. “We are also encouraging everyone to exercise their right to vote.”
“I am optimistic about winning the race,” she added. “I possess the integrity, experience and legal scholarship necessary for the position.”
Neckles said she was vetted by many screening panels, including the New York City Bar Association, the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Kings County Democratic Screening Committee, and was “found qualified to be a Civil Court judge.”
In addition, Neckles said he has been endorsed by many Democratic district leaders, elected officials and community organizations.
The list includes: Kings County Democratic Executive Committee; Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND); Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID); Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA); North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats (NBPD); Brooklyn Young Democrats LAMBDA Independent Democrats; and Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.
Among the elected officials who have endorsed Neckles are: Assembly Members Helene Weinstein, Joanne Simon, Maritza Davila, Nick Perry, Rodneyse Bichotte, Tremaine Wright, Walter Mosley III and William Colton; Senator Velmanette Montgomery; Council Member Matthew Eugene; and Congressional Reps. Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries and Nydia Velazquez.
“I am vying for the position for two reasons: first, to achieve my personal dream of becoming a judge; and, second, to promote justice, fairness and equal treatment under the law for everyone, including Caribbean-born folks now residing in Brooklyn,” Neckles reiterated.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics, with honors, from Brooklyn College and her doctor of jurisprudence (JD) degree from the University of Miami School of Law. She has been admitted to practice law in New York and Florida.
As a young attorney, Neckles said she spent the first four years of her legal career (1998-2001) in private practice, handling civil rights, employment discrimination, landlord-tenant and contract matters.
She spent the next 11 years of her legal career (2002-2012) in the Kings County Court system.
Starting as a court attorney in the Kings County civil and criminal courts, she said she advanced to a confidential principal law secretary/legal adviser to a Kings County Supreme Court justice and later to the administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term.
During her tenure as the judge’s legal advisor, Neckles said she “counseled and advised” the judge on a multitude of legal matters, researched complex issues, drafted hundreds of decisions and orders, and mediated and settled cases.
She said she gained “a valuable insight into, and the working knowledge of, the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a trial-level judge.”
In addition, Neckles assisted the administrative judge in the development of court policies and procedures, and the implementation of new programs for the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term.
For the past seven years (2012 to current), Neckles has assumed a quasi-judicial role as a court attorney referee in Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term.
She said she had worked in the residential foreclosure part, in which she successfully conferenced hundreds of residential foreclosure cases, many of which resulted in affordable loan modifications to homeowners.
Neckles said she currently handles “a heavy caseload” of non-jury trials, framed-issue hearings, conferences and inquests.
She also issues decisions and orders, as well as reports and recommendations to the judges of her court.
Neckles said her commitment to the Brooklyn community is illustrated by her extensive pro bono service.
She has been volunteering as an arbitrator in the Small Claims Part of Kings County Civil Court for the past 14 years, where she presides over small claims matters.