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Justice Bert A. Bunyan retires after 22 years on the bench

December 16, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the Brooklyn legal community gathered at the Kings County Supreme Courthouse on Thursday for a retirement party for Justice Bert A. Bunyan. Pictured from left: Hon. Bert A. Bunyan with his brother John Bunyan, daughter Shawn Richardson and son-in-law Darrell Richardson. Photos by Mario Belluomo
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Judges, attorneys and court employees of the Kings County Supreme Court held a retirement party for Justice Bert A. Bunyan in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday. The judge will step down from the bench after 22 years of serving the people of Brooklyn.

“It’s so great to be here, a wonderful celebration for Bert Bunyan after 22 years of being a colleague, being one of our best trial judges and winding up as one of our leading medical malpractice judges for quite a few years now,” said Hon. Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge for civil matters, Second Judicial District. “He’s done a great service to the bar, to the people of the state of New York and it has been a total pleasure to work with him all of these years.”

Bunyan, a Brooklyn native, was elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York as a Manhattan judge in 1995. In 2002 he was elected to the bench in Brooklyn Supreme Court. Before that, he attended Bishop Loughlin High School, received his Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia State University and became a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Afterward, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia in 1974.

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Many of the judge’s family members and longtime personal friends were also on hand. Including court staff and many other judges, the Surrogate’s Court, where the party was held, was packed with over 100 people for lunch and cake. After Joanne Minsky Cohen welcomed the crowd, Knipel spoke. Bunyan also gave a short thank-you speech.

“I’m so glad that everyone is here in celebration of my retirement, over which I am somewhat ambivalent,” Justice Bunyan said. “Let me explain. Just like everyone else, at some point you give some thought to retirement. Well, here I am; I’m sure to enjoy my additional time off, but the downside that comes into play is that I’ll no longer be doing this, which is something that I’ve enjoyed doing all of these 30-plus years. And I won’t be interacting with most of you, which is a negative of retirement.”

Bunyan then spoke about many of the people who have helped him throughout his career, including his family and his small circle of close friends. He also thanked, “Da Crew,” or his court staff and people who work in his chambers. He gave a special thanks to Joanne Minsky Cohen, who worked with him for the past 22 years and all of the administrative judges he has worked under.

“My right-hand person for the last 22 years has been Joann Minsky Cohen,” Bunyan said. “I have so much appreciation for her and all that she’s done.

“I have to give recognition to my former administrative judges,” Bunyan continued. “Justice Lawrence Knipel, I want to thank him for his leadership over the last four years as he served in that capacity, but going back I’ve got to recognize all of the administrative judges that helped me grow as a judge — Justice Maggie Cammer, Justice William Miller, who was with me in criminal court, the late Justice Theodore Jones, Justice Michael Pesce, Justice Ariel Belen, Justice Ann Pfau and most recently, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix. I’d just like to thank them all for assisting me in my growth.

“I’m grateful to all of you for making this a special day for me,” he said in closing. “It’s also been an extraordinary honor and a privilege to serve as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court. I thank you all for your support and warm wishes.”

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