Brooklyn Bar packs the Marriott for annual dinner

December 8, 2015 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This year’s Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s annual dinner was bigger than ever with more than 1,000 people in attendance, including BBA President Arthur Aidala (left), Mayor Bill de Blasio (right), Geraldo Rivera (not pictured) and Alan Dershowitz (not pictured). Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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More than 1,000 judges, lawyers and other members of Brooklyn’s legal community packed into the ballroom at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge for the Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation’s annual dinner where six people were honored including a pair of retiring judges, during a special ceremony on Monday night.

The honorees included Hon. Sterling Johnson Jr., a judge in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York; Hon. John M. Leventhal, associate justice, Appellate Division Second Department; Alan M. Dershowitz, professor emeritus, Harvard Law School; and Hon. Patricia DiMango, star of CBS’s “Hot Bench.” Retiring justices Hon. Albert Tomei and Hon. Joel M. Goldberg were also recognized at the event.

“This year at a gathering of all the past presidents of the Brooklyn Bar, an event that I hope becomes a tradition, I was told that this year is a year that I will remember for the rest of my life,” said BBA President Arthur L. Aidala. “That is absolutely true and this is a highlight of it.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand for the event and remarked that its colorful cast of characters could only be found in Brooklyn.

“Any organization that has Arthur Aidala for a president, that’s saying a lot,” de Blasio joked. “Arthur has never shied away from a controversial opinion. That comes from his roots in Brooklyn…Just to give you an example of how colorful we are in Brooklyn, we have Geraldo Rivera and Alan Dershowitz on the same program.”

Frank Seddio, the chairperson of the Annual Dinner Committee, acted as the master of ceremonies for the event. After Hon. Barry Kamins introduced the dais and Aidala recognized Brooklyn Supreme Court Justices Tomei and Goldberg, the awards were presented.

Hon. Margo K. Brodie accepted on behalf of Justice Johnson, Hon. Randall T. Eng introduced Justice Leventhal, Geraldo introduced Dershowitz and Hon. Lawrence K. Marks introduced DiMango.

“I always wanted to present an Academy Award and this is about as close as I’ll come to it,” Justice Eng joked.

The speeches were brief, but touching. Brodie remarked on how Johnson was always a particular inspiration for attorneys of color and called him a, “trailblazer and someone to emulate.” Geraldo pointed out that Dershowitz was the first legal pundit on television, blazing the way for the likes of Aidala, who is a regular Fox News commentator. Judge DiMango called it a dream come true to be honored by the BBA and explained how she thought she missed her opportunity when she retired and moved to California to star in a television show.

“Life unfolds in the most unexpected and unorthodox ways,” DiMango said. “For me, it was two wonderful phone calls — Judy’s (Judge Judy Sheindlin) took me to California and gave me a wonderful career, and Arthur’s phone call brought me back here to all of you and to where my heart will always be.”

The dinner was the biggest in the history of the Brooklyn Bar Association and included 36 people sitting atop the dais. The money raised will help the BBA run its various events and will go toward upgrading the BBA’s headquarters on Remsen Street.


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