Urban CNY Interview: Felicia Pitts-Davis Candidate for Syracuse City Court Judge: “I Have Experience”

Felicia Pitts Davis has over 24 years’ experience as an attorney, her Law Practice covers a variety of areas, including Criminal law, Landlord/tenant, Small Claims, Corporate Law/Contracts,  Personal injury, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability, Real Estate, Family Law, Domestic Relations, and Employment Discrimination.

Pitts Davis developed curriculum for and taught class, “Social Work and the Law” for Master’s Degree Candidates as an adjunct professor at Syracuse University.  In addition to the aforementioned, she’s provided legal services in working with local area churches and organizations. She is a candidate for Syracuse City Court Judge, which has a primary on Thursday, September 13th. There are two other candidates in the race for the Democratic Party’s Nomination, Ann Magnarelli and Shadia Tadros.

Why do want to become a Syracuse City Court Judge?

Pitts-Davis: “For me running for City Court Judge was a decision based on two different factors. One was my level of experience, I’ve been an attorney for 24 years, but I haven’t always done criminal law. For the last six 1/2 years, I have been a criminal defense attorney, I have the experience. With 18 years of civil experience of all kinds; from litigation in Federal Court, to employment discrimination issues, and real estate. Corporate issues, in terms of advising companies, Workers Compensation, Social Security, Disability, Personal Injury. I have a lot of experience, dealing with individuals, people of all races, all creeds, all cultures and all nationalities.”

What can you bring to the bench that your opponents can’t? How do you differentiate yourself from them?

Pitts-Davis: “Experience is the key, if I’m not mistaken; the other candidates have about 10 years each. I have at least 24 years of experience. So, just experience, sheer experience, which for me is the bedrock for what you’re doing in your profession. The depth of my experience differentiates me from the others that are running for this seat.  I’m in City Court every day; so every court has its own ethos, whether you’re talking about Federal Court, whether you’re talking about State Supreme Court, or the various Administrative Agencies that I’ve talked about, that I’ve practiced before. So, on a daily basis, I see the highs and lows of Syracuse City Court. I know, as a defense attorney, I know the challenges or other issues. From that day-to-day experience, I’ve gained some insight into what City Court Judges face, but equally and importantly, what people face in City Court.

I believe my experience in general as a lawyer, being in City Court gives me a leg up. I’m in City Court in other aspects too, that differentiates me; I’m not just a criminal defense attorney, but I’m also in Landlord Tenant. I’ve also done Small Claims, so just a variety that City Court has, I’ve been exposed to, I’ve practiced, and as I said, I have experience. “

What would you want people to know about you as a candidate running for this office?

Pitts-Davis: I am a candidate of character, integrity, and fairness. Those are practical qualities, not just euphemisms, in my experience as an attorney and dealing with individuals on a daily basis. That’s the heart of who I am, which is really shaped by my interactions with people, and that I value people, and that people’s rights matter, that’s an essential core of who I am. And my ethos about myself, and how I see the law, and how the law can be applied. Based upon a real firm commitment to the rule of law, and also an attempt to understand the spirit of the law, and have those two things work hand-in hand. In a courtroom, if I were elected judge, it would be my goal to empower all parties.”

The candidate for Syracuse City Court Judge discusses the community, voting and specifically how it applies to justice. Pitts-Davis is clear about the absolute need for people to realize they have a choice. “I believe that people should want to take part in making a decision, about who sits on the bench. “ Again, reflecting on her years practicing law, “The best solutions come out of situations where there are as many options as possible. There are no cookie cutter outcomes; you have more options when the community is involved.”

Felicia Pitts Davis- is a founding member of and Initial Legal Consultant for of NACOLE (National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement), Advisory Committee Member of U.S. Department of Justice Civilian Review Boards Manual (1998). Admitted to Practice in Federal Court:  Northern District of New York since 1999, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit since 2007