Miranda Rights the focus of Law Day celebration at Brooklyn Supreme Court
The Kings County Supreme Court celebrated Law Day on Monday with a ceremony in the central jury room of the courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn. This year’s theme was “Miranda: More than Words.”
Law Day is held nationally on May 1 every year to celebrate the role of law in our society. Here in Brooklyn, it is often celebrated by various courts throughout the system throughout the month.
Monday’s celebration included a brief ceremony followed by a luncheon in the Surrogate’s Court. Justice Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge for civil matters, second judicial district, welcomed a group of speakers that included Hon. Jenny Rivera, Hon. Randall T. Eng, Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard, Zachary Carter and Hon. Frank Seddio. Hon. Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge for criminal matters, made the keynote speech.
Justice Knipel opened the ceremony with a few words and a moment of silence honoring the late Justice Arthur Schack, who passed away last week. He called him “one of the finest judges, one of the finest human beings to ever sit on the bench in Brooklyn.”
Justice Knipel also praised New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s new “Excellence Initiative,” which plans to reform courthouse operations.
“Like a breath of fresh air, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has hit the ground running with her ‘Excellence Initiative,’ which involves a detailed and comprehensive analysis of current court processes and procedures to determine what is working well and what needs to be improved,” Knipel said.
“Consequently, we here in Kings County and across the state are presently involved in a top-to-bottom, self-critical analysis to determine the best procedures to improve the efficiency of our operation, expedite the hearing and resolution of cases and enhance the overall quality of justice at the courthouse.”
Each of the speakers spoke about Law Day and Miranda rights. “Miranda is a promise of our constitutional guarantees that justice will be done both on the streets and in the precincts and, of course, in the courtroom,” Judge Rivera said.
Judge Eng, the presiding justice of the appellate division, second department, discussed how Miranda is still very much in contention in New York State. He pointed out that it was the key issue in 32 appeals cases in 2015, 32 in 2014 and 25 in 2013.
“It’s also fair to recognize at this point that Law Day is not just an opportunity to get together for a nice brunch, but it is a recognition of the triumph of the rule of law over totalitarianism,” Justice Eng said.
Dean Allard noted that Law Day reminds us of the important work lawyers do and how the rule of law is central to our enduring democratic republic.
“It’s important that the public be educated about the law so they know it’s legitimate, so briefly I’ll just cover three words in terms of how educational this day is — inspiration, mentoring and education,” Allard said.
Seddio, a former Surrogate’s Court judge, said that Law Day should also be called “Judiciary Appreciation Day.” “I think it’s too often that our judiciary, especially here in Brooklyn, go underappreciated,” Seddio said.
Judge D’Emic spoke about the importance for the members of the judiciary to remain grounded, cracking a couple of jokes to get his point across. Then he spoke more seriously about the importance of the Miranda warnings.
“These are words of fairness and these are words of justice, dignity and integrity,” he said. “That’s the way I interpret our Law Day topic. So I’m going to invoke my right to remain silent and end this speech.”
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