Kings County Criminal Bar Association donates money to charities, law school scholarship
The Kings County Criminal Bar Association (KCCBA) has focused on raising money for charity under President Michael Cibella, and during its monthly meeting in Brooklyn Heights on Thursday, it spread some of that money around.
“We raised a good deal of money for two great charities — one was the YWCA of Brooklyn, a group that serves women victims of domestic violence by finding them housing and shelter,” Cibella said. “The other program was Families Rising, which is a part of [The New York Foundling Fontana Center for Child Protection], which helps children charged with a crime find a way out of the criminal justice system.”
Cibella explained that he was inspired to donate to these particular charities by Justice Michael Corriero, star of TV’s “Hot Bench.” It was Corriero who got Cibella involved with working with kids while he was an assistant district attorney at Family Court. Corriero worked with Families Rising and was one of the first to donate to KCCBA’s charity golf outing over the summer.
“Often it’s children with no parental support or guidance who end up in our world and we wanted to do something to help keep them out of it.”
KCCBA also resurrected an old scholarship this year, named after Hon. Ruth E. Moskowitz, a former Brooklyn Supreme Court justice and prominent civil rights activist. Cibella credited immediate past President Michael Farkas and past President John Stella for working with Brooklyn Law School (BLS) to bring back the annual scholarship.
“This was something that we used to do annually but unfortunately we stopped,” Cibella said. “We’ve now come back into better financial times from fundraising and are able to revive that scholarship.”
The $2,500 scholarship was given to a BLS student who planned to join the criminal justice community. KCCBA interviewed six applicants, but ultimately said that it was an easy choice, selecting Erik Vande Stouwe as the recipient of the scholarship.
Cibella said that what made him stand out was his work with the indigent in Cambodia, New Orleans and at a clinic in Texas. Vande Stouwe has also worked with Judge Andrew Napolitano at BLS and Judge Anne Donnelley at the Eastern District of New York.
“We chose a candidate near the top of his class, he’s ranked 16th with a 3.85 GPA,” Cibella said. “For some reason, he wants to be a criminal defense attorney, and we’re lucky for that.”
As part of the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) portion of the meeting, KCCBA heard from Allison Lewis, a staff attorney from the DNA unit of the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan. She discussed changes that the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) instituted in the past year.
Over the past five years, there has been a push in New York City to collect DNA from every gun case, according to a report by WNYC Radio. The report stated that due to this, the OCME DNA-profile database has grown to contain more than 64,000 genetic profiles.
“There are changes in the system. It still needs some more changes, and that’s what Allison is going to be here to talk with us about — how to navigate with ease, what’s different and how we can help our clients,” Cibella said.
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