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Featured Adjunct

March 2011

Judge Cheryl Joseph-Cherry


Judge Cheryl Joseph-Cherry is a Support Magistrate in the Suffolk County Family Court, presiding over hearings to determine child support, paternity, spousal support and the violation of support orders.  Her professional experience includes stints as a Support Magistrate in Bronx County, NY; Supervising Court Attorney in Queens County Family Court; Domestic Violence Court Coordinator for the Center for Court Innovation, a nonprofit judicial think tank; and an Assistant District Attorney in New York County.  She received her B.A. magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from New York University, and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.  Judge Joseph-Cherry has been a Law Center adjunct for the past three years, teaching the Family Law Practice Module and Pre-trial Litigation.  Her popularity as a teacher can be attested to by her recent SBA award as Adjunct Professor of the Year.

Judge Joseph-Cherry, a native Long Islander, grew up in Elmont, attending Holy Trinity High School in Hicksville.  She now lives in Massapequa with her husband, Bruce, who is a patient care technician at Northshore LIJ, their two boys, Bryce, 7 and Ethan, 5, and her step-daughter Aaliyah, 13.  As a youngster, Judge Joseph-Cherry was surrounded by family members in the medical and service professions.  Her mother is an R.N, her father a Certified RN Anesthetist, and her younger sister is a social worker, specializing in protective services for children.  “My sister and I always grew up wanting to help the underdog, and with both of our parents working in the hospital, they were a wonderful influence on both of us. Service was just expected to be part of our lives.”  When asked why she went into law, and not medicine, she laughed, “I knew I wanted to be a lawyer from high school on.  I had a reputation for being a good arguer, and I was always advocating for someone who needed help.  I was probably influenced by television too, watching Matlock and LA Law.  What’s always mattered to me is helping people, and then in my legal career, I was just drawn to family law issues---child abuse, sex crimes, family violence.”

Judge Joseph-Cherry loved being a Law Guardian and a prosecutor.   “As a Law Guardian, I got to represent children, and that allowed me to get into the child’s perspective on life.  I used to ask each child, ‘What dreams do you have for yourself?’ and the child who didn’t have a dream for him or herself---well, that child was in a bad place.  The answer to that question was always a good gauge for me.  As a prosecutor, I enjoyed the discretion, not the power, of deciding when to prosecute, and when not to prosecute.  I could take those cases that I could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and send really bad people to prison, but if we didn’t have the evidence, then I didn’t prosecute.”

When asked about the dreams she has for herself, Judge Joseph-Cherry, “I always thought I wanted to be a judge, but in Suffolk County, it’s very political, and I’m not a political animal.  I just don’t have the patience for politics, or the time.”  The future might hold more law school for her.  “Maybe continue teaching in a law school, or go into law school administration.  I love working with law students.  I like to help them find the inner passion that made them want to go to law school in the first place, and then show them how to take that inner passion and mold it into their writing and their advocacy.”

Judge Cherry-Joseph confessed to having her own inner passion for Touro Law students.  Having taught at another NYC metro area law school where the students seemed to her to have a sense of entitlement and “needed a lot of hand-holding,” Touro Law students are “eager and motivated.  They’re willing to roll up their sleeves, and get the job done, and if they make a mistake, they admit to that, try to learn from it, and move on. They’re not here to make money, or because someone told them they ought to be a lawyer. Touro students are committed to the ideals of being a lawyer.  At least the students I’ve taught were all that way.”

Did she have any advice for Touro Law graduates, entering a challenging job market?  “I tell all my students, persistence overcomes resistance.  It’s not a matter of “if” you’ll get a job, but “when.”  I’d put any of my Touro students up against graduates from any law school.  Actually, they’re better prepared because they have all these practical skills from the practice modules, the externships, the clinics, the court programs.  They just need to be persistent, and keep up the passion and the drive.”