Justice Denied: But at Least I Can Say I Tried!
Earlier in the year, when I learned of the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Rose Sconiers, I announced that I would seek the nomination of the Democratic Party to replace this Judge who has served as a superior Jurist and individual who has made the African American community proud of her tenure. I made this decision based on a number of factors that included with her departure; minority representation on this important Court would be diminished. I notified the appropriate party leaders (Black and White) of my intentions, and I began to seek support for my candidacy. It was during this same time period that the N.A.A.C.P., Black Leadership Forum, B.U.I.L.D., the Baptist Minister’s Conference and the Concerned Clergy Coalition of Western New York met with the Democratic Party Chair urging the party’s endorsement of an African American to replace Justice Sconiers on the Court. Unfortunately their request fell on deaf ears.
As a result of the actions taken at the Democratic Judicial Convention on September 28 my efforts have been unsuccessful and our communities efforts for inclusion on the bench have been denied. I am greatly disappointed by the fact that the decision by the Democratic Party NOT to replace Justice Sconiers with a well qualified and experienced person of color (whether myself or my colleague Judge Givens) sends the troubling message that the voices of our Clergy, or Civil Rights Leaders, and others within our community don’t matter. As I left the Judicial Convention, one person said, “it looks like we’ve been denied Justice…again!” I am disappointed by the fact, hundred’s of people of color (especially men) will continue to appear in Supreme Court only to see we are not fairly represented. More importantly, I am disappointed that we will continue to tell our youth to “stay in school, do your best and you can achieve anything”, only to know in Western New Yorkthat does not seem to apply to those of color. Although disheartened by the result, I can hold my head high , knowing I at least, did the right thing and stood up for my community.
I thank the countless numbers of people, known and unknown, who gave me their support. Special thanks to Legislator Betty Jean Grant, who had the courage to nominate me and NYS AssemblywomanCrystal Peoples-Stokes, who had the courage to second the nomination. These two women - the only two African Americans who voted for mealong with several White delegates - at least afforded methe opportunity to address the body and state my case for the endorsement.
Very Truly Yours
James A. W. McLeod