A Manhattan Family Court clerk was caught on a hot mic allegedly calling a black teenage defendant the N-word, according to the young man’s attorney.
The clerk, Donna A. Prainito, who is white, didn’t realize her microphone was on when she used the racial slur to refer to a 15-year-old in a virtual proceeding before Judge Jessica Bourbon Thursday, said his lawyer Holden Thornhill.
The incident occurred at the end of a plea proceeding when the judge directed Thornhill’s client to alert an Administration for Children’s Services staffer that the hearing was about to end.
“He turns around to do that and as he does that his rear end is now in the camera, inadvertently,” Thornhill recalled in an interview.
“He’s wearing saggy pants so we’re all looking at his drawers. The clerk in the part mutters at that point, ‘Look at this f–king [N-word] and his f–king pants. F–king m——-n,’” Thornhill recalled.
“If you’re from New York and someone calls you a m——-n and you’re black you know you’ve been dissed. It has no pleasant connotation,” Thornhill said, referring to the Italian-American slur for a black person.
“Not only did she call him a [N-word], but she called him a m——-n. I heard it clearly and I was stunned. It’s just stunning to hear that kind of talk in a courtroom,” Thornhill said.
The judge said, ‘Donna, Donna,’ like, ‘What are you saying?’ was her tone of voice,” Thornton said.
Thornhill declined to name his minor client or specify the allegations against him other than to say he’s accused of being a “juvenile delinquent.”
Prainito, 58, who earns $110,000 a year as an associate court clerk, later sent Thornhill a text message apologizing, he told The Post.
Still he plans to discuss the matter with the prosecutor and the judge when the hearing continues Friday afternoon. He does not know if the proceeding was recorded.
“She made a terrible mistake and really showed her true colors in doing so,” Thornhill said.
Prainito and a spokesman for the court system did not return messages seeking comment.
A high-ranking judicial source said the remark exemplifies a “toxic culture” in the state court system where a white court officer posted an image of President Barack Obama with a noose around his neck on social media last summer, and another white officer called a black colleague “one of the good monkeys.”