The Honorary Ingrid Joseph is more than just a Civil Court judge for Brooklyn, she is a native New Yorker looking to really affect change in the lives of local residents.
Having been born and raised in Brooklyn by immigrant parents, Joseph attended and graduated with honors from Prospect Heights High School where she got her first taste for the courtroom in debate club.
“In high school when you are part of debate club you feel that you can argue both sides and try to convince someone of your position. And I was very comfortable with that. I like arguing issues, but I also like trying to convince you that maybe what was not considered the way to go, could be, if I could persuade you with specific arguments,” said Joseph.
The experience led to a lifetime career for Joseph, who then went on to earn her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree Cum Laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Juris Doctorate degree from New York Law school.
“The three branches of government are necessary for democracy and the judicial branch plays a really important role through lawyers who affect significant changes through the use of the court system.The judicial branch has been on occasion ahead of the other branches of government, which you can see through the civil rights movement and other social movements looking to affect social change,” said Joseph.
After law school, Joseph got her start working for several years for two law firms that specialized in wills, family practice and estate planning. The first several years gave Joseph an opportunity to challenge people’s ideas about immigrants and women in the court system.
“Well I’m five-foot-one, I’m African-American and Caribbean, and so those things have their own challenges,” said Joseph.
Joseph got an opportunity to sit with clients and really talk to them about their histories, and in particular learning about past generations as the associate who made house calls to her older clients as part of the will planning.
After passing the bar and becoming a licensed attorney, Joseph went on to work as a Principal Law Clerk in Kings County Supreme Court, primarily with Hon. Nicholas Clemente & Hon. Mark Partnow, in the areas of medical malpractice and personal injury. The experience proved invaluable since being elected to the bench.
“Because I was a law clerk or law secretary, I had the experience of participating in the decision-making that the judge made–doing the research, helping with the writing, and sitting through conferences–so the transition when I was elected in 2008, was not as difficult as it would be for some other people,” said Joseph.
In 2008, when first elected as Judge of the Civil Court in Brooklyn, she was on the same ballot and elected the same year as the first African-American President of the United State, Barack Obama. It was an honor, she recalls with pride, and to this day she still has a copy of the ballot with both her name and President Obama’s name on it.
“Even though I was at the bottom of the ballot, and maybe I wasn’t as thoughtful decision as the presidency, I was still a part of history,” said Joseph.
During her tenure on the bench, Justice Joseph has served in multiple areas of the court. In 2009, she served in the Civil Court in Queens County and then in 2010, she was assigned to the Civil Court in Brooklyn, where she presided over jury and non-jury trials on personal Injury, commercial real estate, breach of contract, no fault and small claims cases. In 2011, she served as a Family Court Judge and handled custody and visitation cases.
“Actually when I sat on the bench the first day, besides the natural first day jitters, I was calmer than what I thought I would be. That was because I had experience being an arbitrator in small claims court and had experience being a mediator in the past. So when I actually sat on the bench, I was able to see and hear and listen to what was before me at the time,” said Joseph.
In 2012 she was appointed Acting Justice of the Supreme Court and her duties were expanded to include Supreme Court jury trials, foreclosure cases and uncontested matrimonial proceedings. She has been involved in researching, writing and editing several published decisions. In 2016, Judge Joseph was assigned to a Matrimonial Part in Kings Supreme Court, where she presided over divorce cases with custody, equitable distribution, and other financial issues. Judge Joseph conducted in-depth conferences, addressed motions, and presided over hearings and trials during her tenure as a matrimonial judge.
She was elevated to Supervising Judge of the Civil Court (Kings County) in 2017, where she currently presides. Justice Joseph continues to preside over matrimonial trial, jury and non-jury trials. Additionally, her duties were expanded to include a myriad of administrative tasks, such as assigning trial ready cases to other civil court judges; managing calendar loads in the circuit parts; and resolving complaints made by litigants and attorneys.
Additionally, Joseph appears in schools for career day and regularly makes appearances to youth forums to speak about the advantages of staying in school, staying out of trouble and discussing how to behave when stopped by the police.
Judge Joseph enjoys reading, traveling, watching sports, bike riding, tennis and fencing.
The Judicial Primary is Sept. 13.