Six Candidates Vying for 3 Seats On NY County Supreme Court

With the convention fast approaching, our columnist gives the latest profiles on the final four candidates vying for three seats on the NY County Supreme Court. Brief summaries of the two candidates she profiled earlier are also included.

| 31 Jul 2023 | 12:52

Judicial Convention on the horizon: The dog days of summer haven’t deterred the aspiring NY County Supreme Court candidates from their rounds of Democratic clubs and meets and greets in anticipation of August 10th when the duly elected Democratic Judicial Delegates will select the nominees for the three vacant seats. At the convention, the three candidates who will be on the November ballot will be selected by the Judicial Delegates. The candidates who were reported out twice prior to July 20th are Judges Lyle Frank, Suzanne Adams, Geraldy Lebovits, Judy Kim, Leslie Stroth, Phaedra Perry. In recent issues, I’ve profiled Judge Frank and Judge Adams and as a service to readers, included brief summaries of the earlier two candidates. Since the convention date is fast approaching, here are backgrounds of the remaining four candidates.

Judge Judy Kim, a lifelong New Yorker and born and raised in Kips Bay, was elected to the New York County Civil Court bench in 2016. She was the first Korean American elected to the bench. Prior to her judicial service, she was a trial and appellate litigator for 17 years, serving a diverse range of clients in federal and state court, including maritime/admiralty, family and matrimonial, employment discrimination, civil rights, insurance and personal injury law. For the last year-and-a-half, she has been serving as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court.

Judge Kim strongly believes that community and pro bono services are important obligations of every judge and she volunteers her time by serving on several non-profit boards, including the Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert and was recently elected as Co-President, and the Korean American Community Foundation, which helps low-income Korean Americans in and around New York City and promotes a culture of giving and philanthropy in the community. Judge Kim has also served on the Stonewall Community Development Corporation, which helps LGBTQ+ Seniors find affordable, supportive and safe housing. Prior to being elected to the bench, she volunteered her legal services at the City Bar Association’s Monday Night Law Clinic, the legal clinic run by then Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright in Harlem, and the Open Hands Legal Clinic in the Lower East Side.

Judge Gerald Lebovits was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and received his three law degrees from the University of Ottawa (French), Tulane University, and NYU. Judge Lebovits was a Housing Court judge from 2001 to 2010 and was elected to Civil Court where he has served since 2011. He has been an Acting Supreme Court Justice since January 2015 and is President of the NYS Association of Acting Supreme Court Justices. Before his election to Housing Court, he was President of the NYC Housing Court Judges and President of the NYC Association of Small Claims Arbitrators, and a law clerk to a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

Judge Lebovits is an Adjunct Law Professor at Columbia University (since 2010), Fordham University School of Law (since 2011), and NYU School of Law (since 2012). He is a faculty member at the NYS Judicial Institute teaching judges and law clerks. Students at Fordham, St. John’s and New York Law School have voted him Adjunct Professor of the year. Judge Lebovits has authored or co-authored 8 law books, including Small Claims Manual: A Guide to Small Claims Litigation in the New York State court (2022) New York Residential Landlord-Tenant Law and Procedure (2022) and New York Objections (2023). He has also published over 300 articles on civil practice, criminal law, ethics, family law, legal writing, and evidence.

Before becoming a judge, Judge Lebovits was a law clerk for a justice of the NYS Supreme Court Criminal Term in NY County and a trial lawyer with the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division, also in NY County.

An Upper West Sider, Judge Leslie A. Stroth presides in the NYS Supreme Court Civil Term in NY County as an Acting Supreme Court Justice since 2021. She was elected to the Civil Court of the City of NY in 2017 and was designated as a Criminal Court Judge in Bronx County for two years before returning to preside in the Civil Court in 2020. For almost five years prior to her election to Civil Court, Judge Stroth served as a judge in Housing Court.

Prior to becoming a judge, Judge Stroth began her legal career as a Public Defender with the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in New York County where she practiced for 11 years and tried dozens of jury trials in Supreme Court. She then served for seven years as an Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the NYS Attorney General where she litigated complex civil matters, including unjust conviction claims. In 2006, Judge Stroth began her work in the New York City Housing Court as a court attorney and volunteered evenings in the Civil Court as a Small Claims Arbitrator.

Presently, Judge Stroth manages a wide range of civil matters in the Supreme Court involving medical malpractice, personal injury, labor law violations, employment, contracts, residential and commercial landlord/tenant and real estate matters, among others. In 2022, Judge Stroth had 14 trials in Supreme Court and conducted three complicated month-long jury trials with 12-20 witnesses each, with two involving medical malpractice allegations, and one alleging serious labor law violations. She settled the remainder before and after jury selection.

Judge Stroth is a member and officer of several judicial associations. She was elected by her Civil Court peers as President of the Civil Court Judges Association, where she advocates for her fellow judges, and by her statewide judicial colleagues as District Director of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ). Through her participation in the various judicial associations, including the New York City Bar, NYCLA, the NAACP, the Puerto Rican Bar and Jewish Lawyers Guild, Judge Stroth is dedicated to achieving equal justice and diversity in the courts.

Before becoming an attorney, Judge Phaedra Perry served six years of active duty in the United States Air Force and worked as a Personnel Specialist for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Internal Revenue Service, and as a Human Resources Manager in the private sector.

After graduating from law school in 2002, she began her legal career as an associate in a law firm, where she worked for a year, representing employers in a variety of employment-related disputes and she conducted legal research in all major areas of labor and employment law as well as drafting pretrial motions, orders and supporting papers, and then moving on to working as a Housing Court attorney, in the Resolution Part, where she conferenced and settled cases and drafted opinions and decisions. She then worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Westchester County. Starting in 2005, she became Special Counsel to the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the Civil Court, New York County and worked as a court attorney until her election as a Civil Court Judge in 2017.

Judge Perry was initially assigned to Bronx Criminal Court where she presided over pretrial hearings, arraignments, and plea agreements She was later designated as an Acting New York State Family Court Judge to preside over Juvenile Delinquency cases involving the New York Raise the Age Legislation. In addition, Judge Perry handled high-conflict custody cases, family offense proceedings, and other matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Family Court. Before being elevated to Acting Supreme Court Justice, Judge Perry was assigned to the Civil Court. In addition to currently presiding over Guardianship proceedings, she presides over Summary Jury and Bench Trials involving Personal Injury actions.

In addition to her membership in the Association of Black Women Attorneys and the New York Bar Association’s Civil Court Committee, and among other volunteer and law-related activities, Judge Perry has volunteered, since 2003, with First Fruit Outreach, a not-for-profit organization which provides fresh food, free of charge, to households in the community that are experiencing food insecurity. The event takes place every second Saturday of each month. She also volunteered in the Justice Ambassadors Youth Council (JAYC), an 8-week leadership and skills development program and a platform for disadvantaged youth ages 18-25 who have previously been involved in the justice system.

Since January 2016, Judge Lyle Frank has presided over several thousand cases as both a Criminal Court and Civil Court judge. Since 2019 he has been an Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court where he has resolved a variety of cases, including personal injury, employment discrimination, civil rights, property disputes, and other matters. Most recently, Judge Frank has made decisions in special proceedings, including one where he ruled that the City of New York could not charge its retirees for health insurance. In another case, he decided that the NYPD was improperly using sealed records. During his time on the bench, Judge Frank has conducted approximately 70 trials to verdict.

He is also a participant in the Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for college students and currently participates in a special masters program through the New York County Lawyers Association where judges act as mentors to attorneys of color who hope to be judges.

An Upper East Sider, Judge Suzanne Adams was elected to the Civil Court bench in the 9th Municipal District in 2017. As a Civil Court Judge, she presided over Criminal Court and Family Court cases. In January 2020, Judge Adams became an Acting Supreme Court Justice. In the 18 years before being elected to the bench, she represented and defended litigants in all aspects of civil litigation in motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, construction site related accident, property damage and subrogation actions. In addition to conducting depositions and trials, she supervised, trained and mentored associates in the law firms where she practiced. Judge Adams was also a founding member of a women-owned law firm.

In Criminal Court, Judge Adams presided over the City’s Midtown Community Court which addresses low-level offenses by working with social workers and other professionals to redirect litigants into rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration. Judge Adams was selected by the Office of Court Administration to handle the new Raise the Age Law cases, in Kings County Family Court. The Raise the Age Law gives 16 and 17 year teenagers the opportunity to have their cases heard in Family Court instead of Criminal Court.

As part of her community service, Judge Adams, from 2011 to 2017, provided pro bono legal services in the Eviction Intervention Services Clinic, New York, NY, where she assisted tenants with serious housing issues.