Haitian Lawyers Association holds its 2nd officer installation
The Haitian American Lawyers Association of New York (HALANY) hosted its second annual installation ceremony for its executive committee and board of directors at Borough Hall on Thursday.
Outgoing President Emmanuel Depas officially handed the baton over to new President Annel-Stephan Norgaisse during a special ceremony. Norgaisse was then sworn in by Justice Dweynie Esther Paul, along with Ritha Pierre as president-elect, Marly Marcellus as vice president, Kenny Milord as treasurer and Rodney Pepe-Souvenir as secretary.
“HALANY is not just an organization of brains or beauty, because you guys look good,” said Paul, who was the first registered member of the association. “HALANY is an organization of people with guts to get the work done. Not just in the courtroom, but in the streets to get the work done.”
Depas admitted feeling nervous that the group wouldn’t be able to fill the ceremonial courtroom at Borough Hall for the event, but there was a standing-room only crowd nonetheless. The ceremony was hosted by CNN legal contributor Midwin Charles, it included a flag ceremony by the Haitian American Law Enforcement Fraternal Organization, Judge John Andrew Kay gave the benediction and Anie Alerte Joseph sang both the American and Haitian national anthems.
Speakers included James M. Hicks, the assistant dean at Savannah Law School, which Norgaisse attended; Raymond A. Joseph, a former ambassador to Haiti; and Judge Paul. A citation was given to Paul by state Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud’s office and outgoing board members David Morisset, Nancy Morisseau and Ralph Delouis each received citations from the Borough President’s Office.
“Haiti means so much to me. I’m not of Haitian decent, but a Toussaint Louverture picture used to hang from my bedroom wall and it inspired me to be a man,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “By becoming an organization of Haitian attorneys, we must use the power to finally ensure that this generation stops having Haitians pay for what Toussaint did to the French many years ago. Haiti must be free.”
HALANY then presented Paul and Charles with awards for their dedication and service to the group.
“Midwin is very deserving of HALANY’s first advocacy award,” Depas said. “Her bio is very long and when I see her on CNN I’m at a loss for words because she’s a Haitian lawyer on TV who represents us very well.
“Our second honoree [Paul] just so happens to be the first Haitian-American woman elected to the Supreme Court,” Depas continued. “She is my friend and our first registered member who, as the director of Community Services for the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, partnered with HALANY for many programs.”
The program closed with a message from Norgaisse. In his brief speech, he reminded everyone of the goals of the not-yet-three-year-old group and challenged people to get involved.
“As an organization, we are not a law firm or a bar association. However, as Haitians, there is always an obstacle that has to be handled, so therefore we cannot ignore the battles that inequality and injustice brings us.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we ask you to join us and be a member in our organization and not just a member but an active participant,” Norgaisse concluded.
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