Brooklyn Surrogate Court Judge Diana Johnson is the first African-American to be elected to a Surrogate Court judgeship in New York history. With only weeks on the bench, however, someone spray painted racist graffiti inside two separate elevators at the Downtown Brooklyn courthouse. One message read "Judge Diana Johnson is Dumb," and the other read "Judge Diana Johnson is a Dumb (n-word)." Dozens of lawmakers and judges held a rally to support Johnson in the wake of the offensive and criminal acts.
A former head of the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement said that it was telling that the incident happened not in a criminal court, but in the Surrogate Court, which is primarily occupied with handling disputes over estates and wills. The people who frequent the court tend to be well-heeled and well-paid. Police are examining surveillance tapes from cameras placed near the elevators and looking at the judge's court calendar. Earlier in the day, Judge Johnson reportedly ruled over a contentious proceeding during which she had to admonish an attorney for using demeaning language.