Being backed already by hefty endorsements from political clubs across Brooklyn, Judge Heela Doreen Capell is making some serious headway in her campaign to be Countywide Civil Court seat in Kings County.
“Right now we’re all in a shared experience,” said Capell about gathering petitions this election season, which is wrapping up on March 29.
“There was a feeling of togetherness even though we didn’t have to get as many signatures. Definitely people who were hesitant. There were also people who were very happy to see that there just was going to be an election, and people were out petitioning. That thing’s were still progressing. That was positive actually,” said Capell.
Currently, Capell is the one of the only jurists sitting for in-person cases in Kings County Housing Court, and has been endorsed by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND), the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), Jim Owles Club, and the Kings County Democratic Party.
She presides over mostly residential landlord-tenant trials using her years of experience conducting trials as a litigator in the courtroom. “Now we’re doing mostly tenant initiated repair actions in those trials and also illegal lockout proceedings,” said Capell. “A lot of people have gone through a lot with COVID, especially living in a small apartment with someone. It’s hard.”
Capell said that she tries to keep an open mind for every case because a lot of people are suffering. “There’s a human element that is involved in a case like housing, not just because of the subject matter but also because of the lack of representation,” said Capell. “Because of that I do get more of a one on one with people who come in front of me than regular garden variety civil cases.”
Capell was born and raised in New York, a first generation American with immigrant Jewish parents. She said Hebrew is her first language while English is her second. She’s currently raising her family with her husband in Gowanus, Brooklyn. She said she wasn’t shy about dragging her family on the campaign trail during petitioning.
“My parents divorced at a young age and I experienced various forms of domestic violence as well as familial substance abuse. Surviving these challenges informs my approach to the law, because I know the values of structure, impartiality and empathy,” said Capell, “My personal and professional experiences have afforded me the essential ability to truly listen to the testimonies of all litigants involved in a case with the highest acuity, measure and respect.”
After graduating from law school, Capell served the public in the courtroom and joined a real estate litigation firm. It was during this time as a litigator, conducting landlord-tenant dispute proceedings, that she saw the challenges facing individuals struggling to navigate the legal system.
She is on the board Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and co-chairs the mentorship program, where she mentors newly admitted attorneys.
Capell also expressed her desire to see some improvements in the court system. She said she can remember when there was childcare in the courts. “I believe strongly that childcare opportunities and WiFi should be fully accessible in our courts so that litigants are not unfairly forced to decide between obtaining justice and watching their children or maintaining their health,” said Capell.