On June 25, D. Bernadette Neckles will face off against fellow Democrat Edward King in the primary election for the Kings County Civil Court Judge – a countywide seat.
In an interview with The Jewish Press, Neckles shared what motivates her to pursue the judgeship and the experiences she has had. “From a very young age I realized that I had a calling to serve. I recognized that I would spend most of my life helping others and upholding the law and fighting for those that need help,” she said. At that young age, Neckles was living in Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean with her large family. She has four brothers and five sisters to whom her parents taught the value of good education and service to the community.
After graduating from high school in Grenada, Neckles attended Brooklyn College and graduated with a degree in economics with honors. She then headed down to the University of Miami School of Law to earn her Juris Doctorate. Neckles started practicing as a civil rights attorney but even then she had her eye on the bench. She has been a practicing lawyer for 21 years and working in the court system for 17 of them.
When Neckles began her career, she worked in private practice in the areas of civil rights law, employment discrimination, and criminal law. She clerked for a judge, assisting with cases and drafting decisions, and for the last seven years has been performing in a quasi-judicial role as a court attorney referee. Neckles explained that in this role she would preside over hearings and bench trials and would attend settlement conferences to assist with mediation. She would also write reports and recommendations to the Supreme Court justices and report back to them after the conclusion of a hearing or trial. Neckles was also a small claims arbitrator for the last 14 years where she either facilitated a settlement between the parties or presided over a case and made a judgment.
As a court attorney referee, Neckles attended many settlement conferences between banks and homeowners that were facing foreclosure. She worked hard to facilitate loan modifications so that owners could stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure. Neckles feels strongly that becoming a judge will afford her the opportunity to have an even greater impact on her community. “I would be in a position to better serve the justice system,” she said. “Now with all this experience, and the pleasure of working in the court system for all of those years, I know that I have the qualifications and experience necessary to be an excellent civil court judge.”
Aside from her work in the court, Neckles spends a lot of her time doing community work for over 21 years. She gives a lot of her focus to young people by participating in school career days every year, Moot Court trials, summer youth programs, and panels. She also participates in church panels to provide legal information on the foreclosure process, wills, trusts, and health care proxies to those that may not be able to access that information otherwise. Neckles is also the Vice President of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association.
Neckles has been endorsed by many political groups and leaders, including: Independent Neighborhood Democrats (IND), Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), Kings County Democratic Executive Committee, Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), North Brooklyn Progressive Democrats (NBPD), Brooklyn Young Democrats, The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Lambda Independent Democrats, Lewis Fidler, Lori Maslow, Rodneyse Bichotte, Joanne Seminara, Lori Citron-Knipel, Ari Kagan, Joseph Bova, Sue Ann Partnow, Josh Skaller and many other district leaders. She also has been endorsed by congress members Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, and Myvia Valasquez and assembly member Walter Mosley III.
“When I sit on the bench,” said Neckles, “I make decisions with compassion, fairness, and rule of law.”