Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson to Speak at St. John’s Law Commencement


Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, who has led a life of service to the people of the State of New York, to the legal system, and to the core value of equal justice under law, will be the Law School’s commencement speaker on Sunday, May 21, 2023. The commencement exercises will take place on St. John’s Queens campus.

Throughout her long career in public service, Judge Mendelson has worked tirelessly to afford all New Yorkers equal access to justice. Currently the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives, she is the state-wide judicial official responsible for ensuring meaningful access to justice for all New Yorkers in civil, criminal, and family courts, regardless of income, background, or disability.

In that role, Judge Mendelson heads the New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives, leads the state’s Equal Justice in Courts Initiative, is a member of the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, and oversees the Unified Court System’s Office of Policy & Planning, which is tasked with administering more than 300 problem-solving and accountability courts. She also directs several juvenile and family justice initiatives, including the New York State Unified Court System’s Child Welfare Court Improvement Project and its Advisory Council on Child Fatalities.

Judge Mendelson’s commitment as a statewide advocate for justice is matched by her exemplary record as a practitioner and on the bench. Her early career as a public interest lawyer took her from the Legal Aid Society to the Sanctuary for Families Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services. She then worked as 18-b counsel, representing clients in New York City courts, and as a court attorney-referee. As a judge, she took on key supervisory and administrative roles in the family court system. Later, Judge Mendelson presided over New York County Supreme Court’s Youth Part and in the Court of Claims. Today, she remains active on the bench, conducting pro se trials in state correctional facilities and serving in New York County’s Supreme Court Criminal Term.

“We’re delighted that Judge Mendelson will address our 2023 graduates,” says Dean Michael A. Simons. “As her colleague on the Commission to Reimagine the Future of New York’s Courts, I’ve seen firsthand how she devotes her professional work—and her considerable power—to increasing justice for the poor, for children, and for other marginalized members of our society. In that work, she embodies the Vincentian commitment to serving the poor that lies at the heart of our University’s mission.”