Justice Mastro presented with the 49th annual Rapallo Award by Columbian Lawyers Association

April 29, 2014 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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As the Hon. William F. Mastro stood on the stage of the Grand Ballroom in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, he began to reflect on his life. Standing in front of some of the most influential judges and lawyers in the state, and about to receive the Rapallo Award, what stood out in his head the most was his grandmother, Louise Gori.

“My grandmother was the one that had the biggest hand in raising me and my sister,” Mastro said. “She taught me how to treat people with compassion and she truly was the one that influenced me the most.”

That influence led Mastro to begin a career in law. Mastro, a graduate of New York Law School, began a private practice after passing the New York State bar. Shortly thereafter Mastro was appointed as a staff attorney to the now Mental Hygiene Legal Service and later became a law assistant to Hon. Michael Pesce. Mastro was elected to the bench in 1982, and has worked as an Associate Justice in the Appellate Division, Second Department, since 2002. At present, he is the Senior Associate Justice of that court. 

Naming Mastro for the Rapallo award was a privilege for the Columbian Lawyers Association, First Department. “Justice Mastro’s commitment to public service and the legal profession embody the characteristics and principles that the Charles A. Rapallo Award is intended to celebrate and promote,” said Stephen J. Savva, president of the association.

The award is named after the first Italian-American jurist to be named to the NYS Court of Appeals and is quite prestigious. Past recipients include U.S. Supreme court justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, and New York state politicians George Pataki, Rudy Giuliani and Mario Cuomo.

“Our mothers would never have dreamed we’d achieve the goals that we were able to achieve,” said state Senator Marty Golden, who grew up with Mastro on 67th Street in Bay Ridge. “He has become one of the finest judges and finest men you will find. This proclamation is only a piece of paper. What you’ve done is in your soul and in your heart.”

In addition to the award, Golden presented his friend with a proclamation in his honor. “My grandma lived to see me sworn in as an attorney and I know that she would be proud of me today,” Mastro said. “I want to thank the Columbian Lawyers Association for the award and for doing such a remarkable job in hosting this event. It’s truly an honor.”

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