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(CMC) – The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has honoured Barbadian-born Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix with its 2019 Diversity Trailblazer Award.
During its annual meeting on Saturday, NYSBA said it honored Justice Hinds-Radix, an associate justice, New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, for her “extraordinary efforts” in creating “opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds”.
She was also honored by the NYSBA – during its 142nd Annual Meeting at the New York Hilton Midtown, midtown Manhattan – for mentoring other lawyers and for promoting “equality and diversity in the workplace”.
The NYSBA’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion presented the award to Justice Hinds-Radix.
Her colleague, Justice Cheryl Chambers, New York State Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, introduced Justice Hinds-Radix.
“I am indeed honored and humbled to be receiving this Diversity Trailblazer Award and to join the ranks of those pioneering individuals who have already received this prestigious award,” said Justice Hinds-Radix in her acceptance speech. “I am grateful to the many individuals on whose shoulders I stand, who paved the trails and who made tremendous sacrifices so that folks like me can stand here before you.”
She said she is “the daughter of two of the hardest working people I have ever known, and I believe that if you were to look in a dictionary for the definition of the term trailblazer, you would find their names”.
“It was these two people, who instilled in me the need to understand that everyone has a contribution to make and that diversity matters,” Justice Hinds-Radix said. “Because diversity matters, it is important to ensure that I pave the way for those individuals who can and will work diligently to ensure that they make this world a better place and are granted an opportunity to use their perspective in showing how much better people’s lives can be when given the chance to excel.”
Justice Hinds-Radix said she was “truly grateful for the blessings that I have been given by my Creator and my family”.
“I stand here as someone who can say to you, unequivocally, immigration matters and the diverse perspectives that immigrants bring to the table can and do help to enhance our nation,” she added.
She said she was born on an island (Barbados), of only 166 square miles, and, as a teenager, she migrated to New York.
“And now, I am an associate justice in this state’s second highest court,” Hinds-Radix said.
“Only in this nation can we see such dreams come to fruition, and, we must, therefore, always fight to ensure that we are able to maintain these achievements as part of the American dream.”
At a time when immigration and immigrants are increasingly under attack by US President Donald J. Trump, she said it was “important that the facts, with reference to their (immigrants) contributions, be highlighted in a way that does not mislead”.
The NYSBA noted that Hinds-Radix was the first administrative judge in Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court of Caribbean descent.
During her tenure, NYSBA said she developed a summer internship programme for law students at the Supreme Court, which still serves 120 students from diverse backgrounds, annually.
It said Hinds-Radix is co-chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section’s yearly programme on career strategies for attorneys of color.
While stating that the Appellate Court on which she sits is the busiest in the nation, Justice Hinds-Radix has described as “interesting and fulfilling” her role on the New York court.
“The challenges are different from sitting on the trial court,” she told the Caribbean Media Corporation.
“The Appellate bench helps to shape the law in the State of New York,” she added. “It has been interesting and fulfilling, because it gives me an opportunity to help shape the law and have an impact on things statewide and community wide.”
Hinds-Radix, who is married to Grenadian-born dentist Dr. Joseph Radix, said the Appellate court, on which she sits, gets the vast majority of appellate cases in the State of New York.
“People on the bench have integrity, and they work every day to ensure the public gets the representation they need and deserve,” she said.
Prior to her appointment to the New York State Appellate Division in 2012, Hinds-Radix served as administrative judge for civil matters in the Second Judicial District for 3 ½ years.
In her capacity as administrative judge, she oversaw both the New York State Supreme Court, Civil Term and the New York City Civil Court, which also encompasses the Housing Court of the City of New York. She supervised both the judges in these courts and the non-judicial staff.
She was elected to the Supreme Court, Kings County, in November of 2004 and served as a New York City Civil Court Judge, from 2002 through 2004, spending her first year in the Criminal Court of Kings County.