York Student Reflects On Justice Nelson’s Visit to Law Class

Justice Valerie Brathwaite Nelson during Dr. Robin Harper’s Pre-Law class on Nov. 8. Photo Courtesy: Crystal Roberson.

By Hope Vaughn

We were as enthusiastic to meet her as she was to meet us. Justice Valerie Brathwaite Nelson, associate justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, honored us with her presence in our Intro to Law class on Nov. 8, 2018. She walked us through her journey from undergraduate to Law school, her career as an attorney, to her appointment as a Justice in the Appellate court appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

I sat on the edge of my seat captivated as she spoke on her career as justice and the role the appellate division plays in the judicial system. She handed each student a chart diagram of the different levels of courts in the state of New York. The classroom transitioned from a still quietness of devoted attention to constant flow of questions from students concerning law, appellate court proceedings and cases that illuminated our interest and eagerness to learn. She also handed out a summary of a couple of cases that we were going to hear at the appellate court. Yes, her visit to our class room was reciprocated by her inviting our class to her place of employment.

On Nov. 13, our class witnessed something that is rarely seen by the public—cases that go before the appellate court. We also witnessed artwork of intrinsic, flawless detail that adorned the ceilings of this court house. One by one, the four judges filed in and took their place in the overstuffed justice chairs as the preceding started. A myriad of interesting cases from civil procedures to criminal law was heard in this courtroom. The Justices, including Justice Nelson heard arguments from attorneys on both sides of cases, asked questions and gave their input. During a short intercession, our class was given the privilege to meet with the rest of the Justices. This was a remarkable experience.

Justice Nelson graced us with her presence once again on Dec. 6, 2018 to update our classes on the two specific cases she handed out on the prior visit, and to receive our feedback. Taking time out of her busy schedule to visit us at York and the enthusiasm she exhibited as she stood in front of our classroom to talk to us, speaks volumes of humbleness, nobility and the importance of community support.

I thank Dr. Robin A. Harper and Dr. Jean Phelps for making this meeting possible.

It was an honor and a pleasure to meet Justice Nelson and hope for her to visit York again in the future.

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