The Development School for Youth (DSY), one of the All Stars Project’s flagship programs, proudly saluted its mentor and supporter, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, as she was sworn in to serve on the nation’s highest court.
On Saturday morning, August 8, 2009, Gabrielle L. Kurlander, All Stars President and CEO, and fifty youth and adults gathered at the ASP’s Headquarters at 543 West 42nd Street to watch Justice Sonia Sotomayor's swearing in ceremony. CBS reporters interviewed the DSY students and adult supporters as they celebrated Justice Sotomayor's historic achievement.
"We are thrilled that Judge Sonia Sotomayor has been confirmed for the Supreme Court. Our long association with her is something we're very proud of. Young people in communities all over the city are celebrating this extraordinary accomplishment of their friend and mentor,” stated Gabrielle L. Kurlander, president and CEO of the All Stars Project.
Justice Sotomayor's support for the DSY began in 2002. Over the course of the next five years, she worked with more than a hundred African-American, Latino, Asian-American and immigrant youth. She designed and led a “Mock Trial” workshop known as "The Trial of Goldilocks". Students in the DSY assumed the roles of the defendant Ms. Goldilocks, the defense and prosecuting attorneys, witnesses and the jury. Justice Sotomayor herself presided. "It was very interesting to see how an actual courtroom works and how the workshop applied the court case to something as childish as a nursery story. Justice Sotomayor had a certain aura about her that made it both serious and entertaining...I was on the jury and we found Goldilocks guilty," said Quaseem Rabb, an 18 year old DSY graduate from Brooklyn who participated in Justice Sotomayor’s workshop.
Justice Sotomayor involved many colleagues from some of New York City's top law firms including Dewey and LeBoeuf, Simpson, Thatcher & Bartlett, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Sullivan & Cromwell, among others, in preparing and conducting the Trial of Goldilocks. Many New York law firms sponsored summer internships for DSY students after their experience at the mock trial. Latham & Watkins is the DSY’s national sponsor. “It was an honor to be asked by Judge Sotomayor to coach this dynamic and diverse group of young people, who had the opportunity to meet and observe a sitting judge in her courtroom, and to learn about the practice of law by appearing in her courtroom and acting as lawyers. I was inspired by Judge Sotomayor's commitment to mentoring and to public service, and even more inspired by the dedication of these students and this program to exposing students at an early age about this exciting profession. The selection of Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court will only reinforce the message that all dreams are possible,” said Marcia Levy, Special Counsel for Pro Bono and Professional Development, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP.
Justice Sotomayor also spoke at DSY events, including several she hosted at the Federal Courthouse in Manhattan. In one speech to the DSY youth and their families in 2003, Justice Sotomayor told the graduates, “If one of you makes it to the Supreme Court…please invite me so I can be in the audience that day.”On Saturday, Black, Latino and Asian young people were in the audience watching her be sworn in as the first Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court.