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Memorial ceremony to honor Irwin Kosover

May 27, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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For the past four decades, judges and lawyers throughout the Kings County Civil Court System knew Irwin Kosover as an excellent lawyer and an honest man with a sense of humor. Fearless in negotiations and at trial, Kosover, a veteran defense attorney, often intimidated new plaintiffs’ lawyers who seemed more anxious to settle a case than to select a jury for trial.  Kosover would look at them sternly and say, “You don’t think I’m really going to pay you anything on this piece of nonsense, do you?”

When Kosover’s photo appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle a few years ago in connection with his winning battle to convince the judicial powers-that-be to shut down trials for a week or so during the summer, he complained about it to Eagle columnist Chuck Otey, asking, “What are you trying to do…cause trouble for me?!”

But in spite of Kosover’s tough-skinned demeanor, the Eagle learned that he secretly was pleased with the coverage of his successful effort to obtain what was dubbed the “Summer Kosover” — a period lawyers knew was safe to schedule family vacations.  Following his death last Labor Day, one of his daughters, Carole Kosover, reached out to Otey, who authors the Pro Bono Barrister column for the Eagle, to tell him that her father had enjoyed the “Summer Kosover” articles — so much so that he would clip them out of the Eagle and mail them to her and her sister Amy. 

Otey, realizing how much the Eagle’s coverage had meant to Kosover, resolved that honor should be paid posthumously. He circulated this idea, and trial lawyer Steve Harkavy, a longtime friend of Kosover, formed a committee of other lawyers.

At first, Otey hoped to dedicate to Kosover the phone booth in the Lawyers Room in the Supreme Court building. Especially in the pre-digital age, Kosover had placed thousands of calls from that phone booth. But Harkavy informed Otey that the phone booths in the Lawyers Room had been torn down.  “I’m glad that this was done after we lost Irwin,” said Otey.  “He and many regarded those phone booths the same way Mets fans view seats torn out of Shea Stadium—with a certain kind of reverence.”

Harkavy and his team saved the day, proposing a plaque to be placed in the courthouse at 360 Adams St.  Administrative Justice Lawrence Knipel and Justice Donald Scott Kurtz placed the Kosover memorial on the agenda of the Court’s Civil Forum—a gathering of lawyers, jurists and court personnel that works together to smooth operations of the Kings County Civil Courts.

With the unanimous backing of the Forum and Justice Knipel, Harkavy’s committee designed a plaque that includes a quote from Irwin Kosover:  “I would never hurt another lawyer.”  Voicing their approval were a number of other jurists, including Justice David Schmidt, Justice David Vaughan, Justice Mel Partnow and Justice Arthur Schack, among others.

Irwin Kosover will be honored with a Memorial Ceremony on May 29 in the JCP part of 360 Adams St. (main floor). The ceremony will begin promptly at 1 p.m. and a light lunch will be served.  “We are very pleased that in addition to scores of his colleagues and friends, Irwin’s daughters will be in attendance, along with their friends and family,” said Otey.

“If Irwin hadn’t been sending the Eagle articles to his daughters, this much-needed observance might never have taken place,” Otey added.  “Steve Harkavy has done a heck of a job and so has the Eagle. After all, it started with a newspaper article clipped out of our pages which Irwin valued enough to share it with his Carole and Amy—a true  example of the ‘Power of the Press’!”

—Compiled by Brooklyn Eagle staff

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Kosover Friends Invited To May 29 Observance

“All of Irwin’s friends are invited to take part on May 29 at 1 p.m. in the JCP part, when we honor him for what he will always mean to us,” said Steve Harkavy. The event will include comments from Administrative Justice Lawrence Knipel and other jurists, as well as friends of Atty. Kosover.  A light lunch will be provided.

Further information can be obtained from Steve Harkavy, who reports every working court day to the “Lawyers Room” at 360 Adams St.

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