Janet MaloneAlumna, Class of '89
Judge Janet Malone has a vivid memory of her very first case: her older sister was being picked on by a boy at school. “You can’t talk to my sister like that!” the Judge remembered telling the boy. “When it was over, I said to my sister: ‘You have to speak up for yourself.’ ” Malone was 5, and it was her first day attending school.
“I always wanted to give a voice to those who didn’t have one,” Malone said.
Standing up for people and making the tough decisions are what Malone does to this day. She was elected to Westchester Family Court in 2007. In 2011, she was appointed acting supreme court justice to the Supreme Court.
“The biggest challenge is the decisions I make that impact families and children,” said Malone. In the family court “you don’t have a jury; I sit on the bench as custodian of the record and as judge and jury. I deliberate with me, myself, and I.”
A native of Barbados, West Indies, Malone was raised by her great aunt while her mother went to the U.S. to seek work and a better life for her children. Malone and her sister immigrated to the U.S. some years later; her mother’s employer, an attorney in Westchester, NY, sponsored the girls.
Once reunited with their mother, Malone and her sister saw how hard their mother worked, taking on multiple jobs to support the family. Their mother’s work ethic motivated the girls to succeed. For Malone, that meant pursuing a dream of becoming a lawyer.
She held on to that dream through college and into law school. “CUNY offered me an interview, and the rest is history,” said Malone.
At CUNY Law, Malone found a diverse student body and many people who, like her, were trying to fulfill their dreams, and to learn law in a way that no one else was teaching it at the time. CUNY Law’s focus on practice, coupled with strong academics and group work, helped give Malone an edge in her first legal job as an assistant district attorney in the trial division of the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. There, she prosecuted major felonies and argued appeals at the Appellate Division.
She moved to the private sector and then to the courts, where she has been since 2003, starting as an appointed support magistrate in Westchester Family Court.
CUNY Law has played a big part in getting Malone to where she is today. “CUNY Law gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream to become a lawyer and now a judge,” she said. “I am eternally grateful to CUNY Law for being in existence and giving me the foundation to succeed.”