Wed | Oct 28, 2020

Jamaica-born judge Sam Walker seeks NY Supreme Court re-election

Published:Monday | September 28, 2020 | 12:11 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Justice Sam Walker with his wife, Marie (left), and mother, Gloria Walker, following his swearing-in as judge on the New York State Supreme Court.
Justice Sam Walker with his wife, Marie (left), and mother, Gloria Walker, following his swearing-in as judge on the New York State Supreme Court.
Judge Sam Walker
Judge Sam Walker
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Jamaica-born judge Sam Walker is seeking re-election to the New York Supreme Court 9th Judicial District on November 3.

Walker, who currently sits on the court, is one of several candidates vying to fill four vacancies.

The 9th Judicial District covers such counties as Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester.

Walker is running for re-election on the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative lines on the ballot, having been endorsed by all three major parties. He has also garnered widespread support from a number of major organisations cutting across racial and ethnic borders.

Walker, a past student of Calabar and Meadowbrook high schools and Howard Law School, has been a serving New York judge for the past 32 years, the last 14 as Supreme Court judge. He served as a Westchester County Court judge before winning his election to the Supreme Court in 2006.

Originally intending to retire at the expiration of his present term, Walker decided to seek re-election after the death of his wife last year.

“Her death left a void, and so instead of doing nothing with my time, I decided to seek re-election to continue serving the people of New York, in general, and the counties covered by the 9th Judicial District in particular,” he told The Gleaner.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Walker said he is acutely aware of the impact the criminal-justice system can have on people of colour. “We have a social responsibility to the communities that elect us to the bench,” he said.

Walker said that he is acutely aware that justice must be tempered with mercy, especially in communities where the laws need overhauling.

His greatest strength is his sensitivity to issues affecting those who feel alienated and helpless within our justice system, and he is able to assure them that the issues before the court will be resolved impartially and efficiently. His goal is to make the courts more “people-sensitive”, he said.

Walker is a past president of the Westchester County Bar Association. He was the first person of colour to lead that organisation in its then 106-year history. He was a member of the Board of Visitors of Pace University School of Law for several years and is a former member of the Grievance (Disciplinary) Committee for the 9th Judicial District of the Second Department.

Walker completed four terms in the House of Delegates for the New York State Bar Association and served two terms in the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. He is a past president of the Westchester Black Bar Association and maintains membership in that and several other bar associations.

He was also a member of the board of directors of Westchester Legal Services (Legal Services of the Hudson Valley) and an original board member of Food Patch (People Allied to Combat Hunger), among other organisations.

SUPERVISING JUDGE

Currently, Walker is the supervising judge of the city courts in the 9th Judicial District. He also supervises the Foreclosure Part of the Supreme Court for the 9th Judicial District. He is chairperson of the Pro Bono Committee for the 9th Judicial District, where he oversees programmes designed to provide legal services to the indigent, focusing mainly on assisting individuals who are losing their homes to foreclosure. Walker is constantly looking for ways to help the poor and less fortunate navigate the legal system.

He is dedicated to helping young people avoid the entrapment of drug use and other crimes and has addressed these issues with young people in churches, schools, and various other organisations. He always emphasises the importance of pursuing an education and encourages non-violent means for resolving disputes.

Walker resides in Westchester County and has two adult children, Sam Douglas Walker II of Washington, D.C., and Shannon.