Kings County Housing Court holds 14th annual awards luncheon
Judges, lawyers and housing court personnel gathered in Downtown Brooklyn on Monday to celebrate the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association’s (KCHCBA) 14th annual awards lunch and this year’s five award recipients.
“One of the things I always felt about Kings County Housing Court is that we really are a community — that we’re almost like a club,” said KCHCBA President Michael Rosenthal. “Everybody really cares about each other.”
The event, which was previously held in the Forchelli Conference Center at Brooklyn Law School, took place before a packed room at Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar on Adams Street.
The afternoon’s first award recipient was housing court Officer Chris Spattola whose post includes Part 52 — where the court’s commercial property cases are heard.
“Working in Part 52 is not an easy job,” Rosenthal explained. “You have a rotation of judges, some of whom know landlord/tenant law quite well, such as Hon. Robin Sheares and Hon. Harriet Thompson. Some of them know nothing about it,” Rosenthal added, leaving unnamed the latter list of judges.
“But Chris has gotten that part functioning. Everybody loves Chris,” said the KCHCBA president.
Spattola, who gave short but meaningful thank you remarks, was given a friendly reminder by Hon. Sheares to thank his wife who joined Spattola at Monday’s lunch.
Yvens Nelson, a court attorney for close to 15 years, was the afternoon’s second honoree.
“It [is] with joy that I accept this,” Nelson said nervously as he thanked many of the judicial leaders of the housing court and members of his court staff.
KCHCBA President Rosenthal first met longtime Brooklyn housing litigation attorney Alan Tenenbaum in 1982. Tenenbaum was “soft-spoken but effective,” Rosenthal reflected. “And in 1982, I decided I wanted to be like Alan Tenenbaum. Alan is one of the finest attorneys we have practicing.”
The reserved Tenenbaum — named partner at the firm Cohen, Hurkin, Ehrenfeld, Pomerantz, & Tenenbaum — kept his remarks short. “I don’t know what else to say but thank you,” he said.
The last two awards were reserved for members of the bench.
Kings County Housing Court Judge Marina Mundy expressed gratitude for the group’s recognition.
“This award is really special to me because it’s coming from Brooklyn,” the judge said. After spending nine years on the bench in neighboring borough Staten Island, Mundy added that “coming back after all [that] time really felt like coming home.”
For Civil Court Judge Harriet Thompson, the judges of Brooklyn’s housing court are the “hardest working judges in our judicial system.”
Thompson – the final award recipient of the afternoon, and, as she noted, the second woman of color to receive an award from the KCHCBA — thanked not only her court family, but also her familial support system including her two brothers, an older sister and two nieces, all of whom were in attendance.
“My success is not alone,” said Thompson. “It was founded on a team.”
But the work of the court — specifically housing court — plays a significant role, Thompson reminded the audience.
“The right to decent and affordable housing, although not a constitutional right, it should be. It’s one of the common thread that binds all of us as human beings,” said the judge. “No matter who, what and where we are, we all need a place to live.”
And Brooklyn’s housing court is the place for the work to continue.
“There’s an energy in Brooklyn like no where else in the world,” said Mundy. “It is energetic, very fun and very crazy. But it’s also compassionate and warm. It’s the perfect balance.”
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