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Columbian Lawyers Association honor Justice Maltese with Rapallo-Scalia Award

April 14, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Justice Joseph J. Maltese is the 52nd annual recipient of the Rapallo-Scalia Award given by the Columbian Lawyers Association, First Department. Pictured from left: Columbia Lawyers Association President Marianne E. Bertuna, Thomas J. Principe, Hon. Joseph Maltese and Suzanne J. Adams. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

The Columbian Lawyers Association, First Judicial Department, honored Justice Joseph Maltese with the 52nd annual Rapallo-Scalia Award in front of more than 500 people during a luncheon at the Plaza in Manhattan on Friday.

“Today is all about Justice Joseph Maltese,” said Marianne Bertuna, president of the Columbian Lawyers Association, First Department. “This is a tribute to him and this crowd, which is filled with some of the most important judges in the state. [It] shows that we made the right decision in adding Judge Maltese to our long list of honorees.”

Some of the most important Italian-American jurists have received the Rapallo-Scalia Award including Mario Cuomo, Hon. Antonin Scalia, Rudolph Giuliani, Hon. Samuel Alito, Hon. Janet DiFiore and TV’s Hon. Patricia DiMango, star of CBS’ “Hot Bench.” Last year, Hon. Frank Seddio, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, was honored.

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The award was named for Charles A. Rapallo, the first Italian-American elected to the Court of Appeals of the state of New York. Last year, it was changed to the Rapallo-Scalia Award following the death of Antonin Scalia, the first Italian-American on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arthur Aidala served as the master of ceremonies for the event, which was held for the first 51 years at the Waldorf-Astoria before moving to The Plaza this year. Aidala introduced the judges on the dais, his wife Bertuna and the Luncheon Committee Chair Suzanne J. Adams. Each gave brief remarks.

Thomas J. Principe, a lifelong friend of the judge, introduced Justice Maltese. He spoke of Maltese’s long military career, where he served 30 years between the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve, and his long educational career.

Maltese has a total of six degrees including an undergrad degree from John Jay College, and postgraduate degrees from the University of Nevada at Reno, New York University, Touro College and New York Law School. He has worked in private practice and served on the bench in the New York City civil court, criminal court, the New York State Supreme Court and the Appellate Division.

“During the course of his judicial career as well as his military career, Joseph Maltese had displayed a selfless commitment to our fellow citizens and for the betterment of the legal community,” Principe said. “He has grappled with and mastered some of the most complex scientific and forensic issues put before the courts and continues to educate the legal community.

“Joseph Maltese truly possesses and inquiring mind and is a credit to the bench, the military, the classroom in the colleges and universities where he earned his distinguished degrees.”

After thanking his many friends and colleagues, the judge talked about learning lessons from his grandparents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Sicily, and working for his father’s truck company.

“I remember when I told my dad that I passed the lifeguard test,” Maltese said. “He said, ‘You’re not going to be no beach bum for the summer.’ I told him that I could make more money doing that than working for him, but he said it wasn’t about the money. He was right. To this day, I still don’t believe what we do is work. What my father did that was work.”

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