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Fifth annual Mollen Awards honor excellence, commitment in administration of justice

November 20, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 2015 Mollen Award winners (from left): Rita DiPietro;,Amy Miller, Bruce Kahn, Halina Murphy, Milton Mollen, Gail Neufeld, Frank Rossi, Bruce Bosso and Victor Faleck. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The wonderfully appointed Appellate Courthouse at 45 Monroe Place was again, for the fifth year, host of the Milton Mollen Commitment to Excellence Awards on Wednesday.

Established in 2011 by then-Presiding Justice Gail Prudenti, the award was named for former Presiding Justice Mollen. It honors non-judicial personnel who have shown extraordinary commitment and dedication to excellence in the administration of justice.

Judge Mollen, who received standing ovations twice during the program, has been an inspirational figure since World War II. He flew combat missions for 16 months overseas as a radar navigator and was shot down in 1944 and taken prisoner by German forces. He escaped in 1945 and joined allied British forces until the war ended.

From 1950 he practiced law and served the city’s Office of Corporation Counsel. The ’60s brought him into the judiciary and in ’78 he was appointed presiding justice of the Appellate Division and served for 12 years. Since the ’90s he has led a number of city and state commissions and served as a member of the New York State Court of Appeals. Throughout his entire career, he has been celebrated as an accomplished and avid tennis player. As one longtime admirer said of him, “He strives for excellence both on court and in court.”

At the ceremony Wednesday, Presiding Justice Randall T. Eng offered welcoming remarks and introduced the entire 18-judge Appellate Division for the Second Judicial Department.

The award-winners were Rita DiPietro, senior court clerk (2nd Judicial District); Amy Miller, deputy chief clerk, Surrogate’s Court, Orange County (9th Judicial District); Bruce Kahn, senior management analyst, District Court, Nassau County (10th Judicial District-Nassau); Halina Murphy, court interpreter (10th Judicial District-Suffolk); Gail Neufeld, senior court reporter (11th Judicial District); Frank Rossi, case management coordinator (13th Judicial District); Victor Faleck, assistant deputy chief Appellate Court attorney (Appellate Term, Second Department,); and Bruce Bosso, principal law librarian (Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department).  

Each award winner was introduced by senior court personnel or a judge, replete with remarkable accounts of the dedication, competence and inspirational work of the award winners.

The awards were begun by Hon. Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge, Civil Matters in Second Judicial District. Judge Knipel brought up his chief clerk, Charles Small, who noted that when he first took on the job of chief clerk, he made sure that the office of Senior Court Clerk Rita DiPietro was “close by, because I knew that I would need to consult her several times a day.”

There were numerous personal accounts of devotion to the hard work of honorees. Presiding Justice Eng ceremoniously descended from the bench to take the floor microphone and introduce his favorite law librarian in the world, Bruce Bosso. Once introduced, the quiet, modest principal law librarian for the Appellate Division beamed as all judges in the room — some of whom were retired and sat in the audience — gave him a big ovation. Such is the homage paid to good research.

Other award presenters included Hon. Alan D. Scheinkman, 9th Judicial District; Hon. Thomas A. Adams, 10th Judicial District-Nassau; Hon. C. Randall Hinrichs, 10th Judicial District-Suffolk; Hon. Joseph Zayas, 11th Judicial District; Hon. Judith McMahon, 13th Judicial District; Presiding Justice Eng; and Hon. Michael Pesce, presiding justice, Appellate Term.

Judge Pesce closed the program with an award to Victor Faleck, an Appellate Court attorney who exemplified to many in attendance the great legal wisdom, and judgement, that supports the sometimes Solomon-like requirements of an Appellate Bench.

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