Established 26 years ago by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, Sanctuary for Families, and Columbia Law School, the Abely Awards honor individuals who have made a difference in the lives of survivors of gender violence and who embody Maryellen Abely’s compassion, zeal, energy, and dedication.
This year, we are thrilled to present the 2023 Abely Leading Women and Children to Safety Award to the Honorable Fernando M. Camacho.
INTRODUCING JUDGE CAMACHO
The Honorable Fernando Camacho is an Acting Justice of the Suffolk County Supreme Court in the Tenth Judicial District of New York, where he presides over Suffolk County’s CONCEPTS Court, which he spearheaded in January 2021. Providing alternatives to residential placement for youth charged as Juvenile Delinquents in Family Court, the CONCEPTS Court offers assistance and support to court-involved children from the ages of twelve to seventeen, many of whom have been victims of sex-trafficking. From 2013 until 2021, Judge Camacho was assigned to Suffolk County Supreme Court where he created and presided over the Suffolk County Felony Youth Part, which provided alternatives to incarceration for young people charged with felonies.
Judge Camacho began his legal career at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he worked in the Trial Division, the Sex Crimes Unit, and the Homicide Unit. In 1991 he was promoted to Senior Trial Counsel and assigned to the Homicide Investigation Unit, a joint state and federal task force, where he directed long term homicide investigations and prosecutions of violent gangs.
In 1997 Judge Camacho became a New York City Criminal Court Judge in Brooklyn. Assigned to Queens County in 2002, he served as the Deputy Supervising Judge and presided over the Domestic Violence Court.
In 2003 Judge Camacho created a pioneering treatment court with a mission to stop the incarceration of persons charged with prostitution. That court was the spark that led to the creation of the present day Human Trafficking Intervention Courts operating throughout New York State and a groundbreaking National Summit on Human Trafficking and State Courts in 2015, hosted by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.
Appointed to the New York State Court of Claims in 2008, Judge Camacho also served as an Acting Supreme Court Justice in the Integrated Domestic Violence Court in Queens County Supreme Court. In 2009 he was promoted him to the position of County Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters. While serving as administrative judge he also created and presided over the Queens County Supreme Court Youth Diversion Part, a specialized diversion court for adolescents charged with felony offenses.
Over the last two decades years Judge Camacho has inspired and shaped the New York State court system’s response to human trafficking, advocating for more resources to assist victims of sex trafficking and for a response that shields trafficked and commercially sexually exploited adults and children from criminalization while holding their exploiters accountable. He has been a speaker at numerous state and national conferences and training seminars on the topics of juvenile justice, sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of youth.
Judge Camacho obtained his undergraduate degree from Columbia College and graduated from Fordham Law School.