GRAWA JEC Judicial Evaluations - Rochester City Court 



February 23, 2024

Senator Charles E. Schumer
100 State Street, Suite 3040
Rochester, NY 14614

Re: Vacancy in the Western District of New York in Rochester
Senator Schumer:

The Rochester Black Bar Association (RBBA), the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (GRAWA), and the Monroe County Bar Association (MCBA) urge you to make a recommendation for the judicial vacancy in the Western District of New York in Rochester that increases and enhances the diversity on the Federal bench.

Although the RBBA, GRAWA, and the MCBA each serve the needs of different groups within the Rochester legal community, and each group may have different priorities, all emphatically agree that diversity is needed in the Western District.

The bench should reflect the community it serves. The seventeen counties covered by the Western District include both Rochester and Buffalo, two major population centers where people of color constitute a majority. The Western District is one of 25 (out of 94) districts in the United States that has never had a person of color appointed as a District Court Judge. We repeat: not one judge of color has ever been appointed by the President to serve as a District Court Judge in the Western District of New York since its establishment in 1900.

Although women comprise half of the district's population, Chief Judge Elizabeth Wolford is the only woman District Court Judge in the entire Western District. Since 1900, there have been 18 judges appointed in the Western District of New York. Seventeen have been white men, and one a white woman. We acknowledge and appreciate the Senator’s prior recommendation of a woman to fill the Western District vacancy, and we urge you to continue the efforts to bring diversity to the Federal bench by pressing for a nomination that will bring both gender and racial diversity to the bench.

President Biden has nominated many women and people of color to the federal judiciary, and that trend should certainly continue here in Rochester, the home of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Indeed, within the Rochester legal community, we have numerous exceptional members of the bench and bar who would be excellent and apt candidates for this vacancy and bring much-needed diversity to the Western District bench. The bar associations welcome the opportunity to identify such candidates for your consideration. Indeed, any time a Federal judicial seat becomes available, we urge you to reach out to the local bar associations and seek our input as a resource for finding highly qualified candidates to fill the vacancies.

Race and gender impact and shape our perspectives, and it is past time for the lived experiences of diverse judicial candidates to be heard on the Western District bench. Adding different perspectives and having representation of diverse life experiences to the bench will improve the judicial decision-making in the Western District and, by extension, the Second Circuit, increase points of view, reduce unconscious bias, and enhance the public’s trust and respect for the deliberations.

Lifetime appointments to the federal bench result in infrequent vacancies, so the import of this nomination, and the opportunity to shape the future of the Western District bench, cannot be overstated. Senator Schumer, the time is now for you to take action to increase the diversity on the bench in the Western District of New York.

Respectfully submitted,

Rochester Black Bar Association

Peachie L. Jones, President ([email protected])

Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys

Jennifer Schauerman, President ([email protected] )

Monroe County Bar Association

Cassandra C. Rich, Chair of the Board ([email protected])

Kevin Ryan, Chief Executive Officer ([email protected])

Joint Bar Letter 2.23.24.PDF


“Justice for Tyre Nichols” & The Problems that Reside In the Shadows

This weekend was marred with the release of yet another video of police brutality leading to the death of a Black person (Tyre Nichols), and resulting national protests and conversations filled with cries that Black Lives Matter.  The battles depicted on our streets stem from a mindset—a mindset that each and every one of us is responsible for overthrowing and dismantling.  These mindsets costs lives, cost history, cost progression, and cost freedom.  A dying body lying in the street is the most gruesome depiction of the damage this mindset causes, but there are levels to this… levels and “stepping-stones” to how a mindset reaches to that most gruesome point.  Among other things, these stepping-stones include: turning a blind eye to the constant assaults, ranging from criminally to economically, against Black & Brown communities because it doesn’t impact your personal home front; being overly harsh or unforgiving for a minority’s mistake, yet mentally taking the position that a similar mistake by those who look like you is a “teachable moment” that does not blemish your overall viewpoint of their character or capabilities; it’s giving an effort to promote or teach someone how to be a great professional/staff member who reminds you of your upbringing, yet only coming to the table with inflexible expectations/criticism and giving zero initiative/effort to find commonality with someone who doesn’t share your background; it’s being overly committed to label the actions of minorities as “aggressive” “almost immediately intolerable” or “suspicious” when those deep seeded feelings are not generated when other races perform the exact same actions.  Many are willing to admonish the most egregious and gruesome conduct resulting from that bias mindset, but are you willing to acknowledge the “stepping-stones that reside in the shadows” that provide no help in the fight to eradicate this issue?  I come before you refusing to ask you to dismantle only the most gruesome aspects of racism and unequal treatment, I’m asking you to partner in dismantling it ALL.
Although there are numerous gut wrenching and heartbreaking aspects to discuss regarding the videos depicting the assault on Tyre Nichols, one of the things that disappointed me was the fact there was a medical team who essentially provided little to no medical attention to Tyre (when immediate proper medical attention may have saved his life).  We must be on a mission to constantly educate ourselves regarding how racial inequality permeates every aspect of our society, including the medical field.  Knowledge is power; and the more you know about race relations, the more you can share with others regarding how to dismantle the entire system of racism and unconscious bias. 

Please join GRAWA on Friday/February 17th for an hour at 12pm for a presentation by Dr. Gina Cuyler (Vice President of Health, Equity and Community Investments for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield) to learn about racial disparities in health care.  

With GRAWA Grace,

Josie Sheppard Wilson, 40th GRAWA President



Undeniably, the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is devastating and has serious consequences (not only to women and girls, but also other groups who have relied upon this body of case law to fight for equal rights). If you are more intimately aware of the technical issues and the magnitude of the ramifications of the decision (such as the impact on economically disadvantaged communities, same-sex marriage, contraceptive use, anticipated mortality rates, etc.), then please reach out to GRAWA; as we desire to hold a CLE and/or information session for our community. We will provide more information as we develop GRAWA’s action plan for this year.

GRAWA is a chapter of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”), and GRAWA recognizes the lawmaking influence that comes with using the voice of our State Women’s Bar Association. Please know that GRAWA voted in favor of using WBASNY’s powerful voice to advocate for a woman’s right to choose personal medical and family planning decisions. GRAWA echoes the below statement published by WBASNY last Friday:

WBASNY Supports a Woman's Right to Make Her Own
Reproductive Healthcare Decisions and Vehemently Opposes
and Expresses its Grave Concern with the United States Supreme Court’s Decision to overturn Roe v. Wade The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (“WBASNY”) staunchly supports every woman’s fundamental right to choose and make her own reproductive health decisions. WBASNY expresses grave concern over the United States Supreme Court’s vote to overturn the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade. WBASNY joined Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in support of respondent, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. WBASNY is steadfastly committed to fighting for and preserving women’s rights, including the essential right of women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions. The Dobbs decision marks a seismic shift in our country with respect to gender equality, reproductive rights and constitutional rights. It also restricts women and girls’ constitutional rights and shines a spotlight on the lack of gender equity in our country and in our state.

Roe v. Wade and its progeny, including Casey v. Planned Parenthood have guaranteed women the fundamental constitutional right to an abortion in this country for almost fifty years. The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs will deprive women of their fundamental constitutional right to make their own reproductive health care choices in much of the Country and will destroy nearly fifty years of constitutional jurisprudence. This is a dangerous attack on women, and in particular, poor and disadvantaged women. The United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other industrialized nation.1 Women must have the right to make appropriate medical decisions for themselves about their bodies.

New York State enacted the Reproductive Health Care Act in 2019, which codified the protections of Roe v. Wade into New York State law and ensured access to safe, legal abortion in New York State, irrespective of changes to Federal law. Additionally, in response to and in consideration of the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs, on June 13, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law an additional six (6) laws to further protect patients, medical providers, and the right to reproductive health care in New York. These new laws assure that New York not only guarantees the rights of its own citizens, but also offers to assist those from other states to obtain safe, legal, accessible, and affordable reproductive medical care.

Nonetheless, our entire country should be concerned about the Dobbs decision because the decision issued by the Supreme Court reversing Roe v. Wade results in women losing a Federal constitutional right to make their own health care decisions. This departure will lead to unsafe abortions, an inability to obtain necessary medical care, self-harm, physical and mental health injuries, and maternal deaths. Additionally, discussions are currently taking place in Congress to abolish the right of women to obtain an abortion on a Federal level, which would make New York's law codifying Roe v. Wade futile, and mean that only the wealthiest women could obtain an abortion by going to another country.

While WBASNY continues to celebrate the New York State legislature and Governor for providing women and families in New York State with the essential right to make their own reproductive health care decisions, WBASNY also recognizes that, nationwide, women are still second-class citizens under the law. WBASNY persists as a strong supporter of a woman’s fundamental right to make her own reproductive health decisions and vehemently opposes the United States Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v. Wade.
1The Worsening U.S. Maternal Health Crisis in Three Graphs (




GRAWA mourns the victims of the tragic mass shooting in Buffalo and grieves for the families and all who knew and lost loved ones. We are deeply saddened to witness another episode of gun violence fueled by bigotry and hatred unfold so close to home. We are committed to working actively and urgently to reject the rampant spread of racially-motivated hatred that seeks to divide our country.


PRESS RELEASE- May 3, 2022 

By now, we have all read the “leaked” decision by the US Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade and its progeny.  

The story can be found here. GRAWA is dedicated to protecting the reproductive rights of women, and strongly supports a woman’s right to choose. GRAWA is exploring partnering with other organizations to protest this anticipated decision. As details become available in that regard, they will be shared with our membership.

 Press Release – September 23, 2019

For more information, contact: Katerina Kramarchyk, GRAWA Program Committee Co-Chair, at [email protected].


The Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys (GRAWA) is hosting its 2nd Annual Open House & New Member Reception on September 24, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the offices of Woods Oviatt Gilman in downtown Rochester.

GRAWA members will enjoy networking and refreshments while welcoming several new members. Many of GRAWA’s committees will have displays at the event to provide information and attract new committee members. These include the Diversity, Family & Careers, Legislative, Media, Newly Admitted Women Attorneys, Women’s Connections and Women’s Health committees. Photographer Erica David will also be shooting professional headshots at a discounted rate for GRAWA members.

GRAWA President Carey Ann Denefrio, Esq. “ “ (Something about GRAWA’s lengthy history of supporting women?)

GRAWA’s new members include:


Kristin Marie Bolduc, Esq.

Tracy Bumba

Natasha Burdick, Esq.

Kamela Caschette, Esq.

Leah T. Cintineo, Esq.

Emily Cohen, Esq.

Senovia M. Cuevas, Esq.

Diane Donnelly, Esq

Erin Elmouji, Esq.

Meghan Emes, Esq.

Suzanne Fischer-Huettner

Lisa Granite

Taylor A. Henry, Esq.

Svetlana Ivy, Esq.

Kristin Johnson, Esq.

Mackenzie G. Kellermeyer, Esq.

Rachel M. Koegel, Esq.

Maggie Kolcon

Shana McNamara, Esq.

Joshua O'Neill, Esq.

Samantha Marie Parisi, Esq.

Rachel Partington, Esq.

Amber Peshkin, Esq.

Karianne Polimeni, Esq.

Stephanie Poray, Esq.

Camille R. Quattrini, Esq.

Lydia M. Rainey, Esq.

Kelly Riley, Esq.

Imani M. Shaw, Esq.

Aaradhana Tomar, Esq.

Leah Wagner

Sera Yoon, Esq.


GRAWA Program Committee Co-Chair, Katerina Kramarchyk, Esq.

The Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys is a chapter of the Women's Bar Association for the State of New York. Launched in October 1980 through an "informational meeting," GRAWA brought together about 50 female attorneys (of 150 locally) in its initial months. Today the chapter has over 250 members – mostly women, but men are also encouraged to join. GRAWA's mission is to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and of women in the legal profession; promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to women generally and women attorneys in particular.