Judge Valentina Maria Morales was appointed to the NYC Criminal Court in August 2021 by Mayor Bill de Blasio. She began her legal career at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem where she created and directed defensaNDS, a program designed to provide quality holistic representation to monolingual Spanish-speaking clients. Following her tenure at NDS, she joined a team of bilingual attorneys at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP where, together, they represented sovereigns and state-owned entities in disputes with transnational investors. While at Curtis, Judge Morales maintained a robust pro bono practice representing clients in criminal, civil and family court matters. A significant component of her work included advocating for pregnant women and new mothers incarcerated in both city and state correctional facilities. She left Curtis in 2013 to join the Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS) in the First Judicial Department as a chief regional supervisor. At MHLS, she oversaw two offices of senior trial attorneys and staff charged with representing persons committed to psychiatric hospitals, those receiving court-ordered care in the community, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Before joining the bench, Judge Morales served as Senior Director of Justice Initiatives for The Fedcap Group. There she designed and directed social service programs for specialized populations impacted by the criminal legal system with specific focus on women, Spanish language speakers in the Latinx community, those living with significant mental health needs and the neurodiverse. Judge Morales is a graduate of Wellesley College and Columbia Law School. She is the proud mother of two amazing children.