Elba Galvan, currently a Surrogate’s Court Referee in Brooklyn and a longtime Manhattan resident, this week announced her candidacy for New York County Surrogate’s Court Judge.
A practicing attorney for over 25 years, Galvan is the only candidate with firsthand experience resolving disputes in Surrogate’s Court as a Referee, where she has served under progressive, reform-minded Surrogates Margarita Lopez-Torres and Rosemarie Montalbano.
Surrogate’s Court primarily presides over matters involving someone’s estate after they have died.
“Having devoted years to ensuring that the rights of families are protected has inspired me to run for Surrogate’s Court Judge,” Galvan said. “I’ve spoken to thousands of New Yorkers during the current petitioning season. Many are hurting from recent world events and those navigating our City’s justice system without proper resources or representation must not be left behind. I believe in families and their right to pass the wealth they have worked so hard to accumulate to their children and grandchildren.”
Galvan, a true advocate of the judicial process, said she understands the care, research, and legal acuity it takes to write legal decisions that stand up to review and provide clear guidance for litigants and families facing tremendous uncertainty. She credits this unique skill for resolving disputes to her role as a mediator in her seven member family, who often looked to her to find resolutions to loving conflict.
“I was usually successful in finding solutions that worked for all of us. The skills I learned from my own family prepared me to assist other families in their time of greatest need,” she said.
The daughter of immigrants, Galvan is a New York City native from a diverse and large family. She resides in Washington Heights and has previously lived in Hell’s Kitchen, the East Village, the Lower East Side, and the Upper West Side.
After earning her BA from Cornell University and JD from Howard University School of Law, she worked as a litigator and appellate attorney at two private firms. Ms. Galvan also served as Special Counsel to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (now the Latino Justice PRLDEF) and managed a solo practice. She served as a law clerk to both US Southern District of New York Court Judge Analisa Torres and NYC Civil Court Judge Laura Johnson.
Galvan was President of the Puerto Rican Bar Assn., and is the proud recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Advocacy Flor de Maga Award. She has been Deputy Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Assn. and has served a two-term presidency of the National Lawyers Guild, NYC Chapter. A member of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the City of New York and the Cornell University President’s Council for Cornell Women, she is a frequent lecturer on educational and Continuing Legal Education panels and has participated extensively in internship and mentoring programs.
Galvan said her campaign prioritizes ensuring that the most vulnerable people are not taken advantage of by the powerful and influential.
“The problems facing parties in Surrogate’s Court deserve attention. As our next Surrogate, I will ensure an even playing field and that all litigants know their rights,” she said.
As Surrogate, Galvan said she intends to assign experienced staff to specific roles to assist the public and expedite the resolution of matters. She would also make court documents more accessible for all litigants, and ensure self-represented parties know their rights and the court processes.
Galvan will also seek measures to reduce deed theft, third party transfer, illegal foreclosure, and other scams designed to take advantage of the disenfranchised.
Galvan and her husband have resided in Washington Heights for decades, where they have raised their three sons: a college junior and aspiring oceanographer; an incoming college freshman studying environmental sustainability; and a high school junior who plays the trombone at Manhattan’s Special Music School.
In the warmer months, you can meet the family as they regularly volunteer at the William B. Washington Memorial Park on West 126th Street in Manhattan.