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Justice Miller lectures on appellate law at Columbian Lawyers Association meeting

November 14, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
President Linda LoCascio and the Columbian Lawyers Association hosted Hon. Robert J. Miller,  justice for the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, who gave a CLE lecture on practicing in the Appellate Division. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn hosted Justice Robert J. Miller of the Kings County Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, for a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar at the Rex Manor Catering Hall in Dyker Heights last Wednesday.

Miller, a frequent lecturer at various bar associations, discussed tips and recent changes in appellate law in his lecture titled “Appellate Practice in the Second Judicial Department.”

“Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards and honors, including from the Federation of Italian-American Organizations (FIAO), one of my favorite organizations, Progressive Democratic Club, Chabad Vocational Schools of Israel and, of course, the judiciary award from the Catholic Lawyers Guild,” Linda LoCascio, president of the Columbian Lawyers Association said of Miller.

“Justice Miller has toured, lectured and served as a member of many bar associations, including our own,” LoCascio continued. “He’s also served as legal advisor to FIAO, The Oratory Church of St. Boniface Church, and served as VP and director of Flatbush Development and Ditmas Park Association. I enjoy listening to Judge Miller lecture. When I first became a court attorney, I did many of the CLEs and found them quite informational and wonderful.”

Miller, a Brooklyn native who graduated from Brooklyn College and the Georgetown University Law Center, began his law career working in Manhattan. He credited the Columbian Lawyers Association with helping ease him back into Brooklyn once he became a judge here.

“When I first came on the bench, the folks in this organization greeted me and welcomed me,” Miller said. “Hon. Carl Landicino, who was counsel to the [Democratic] Party when I was applying, was instrumental in me becoming a judge. Bruno Codispoti took over my role in the FIAO, Greg Laspina helped me a great deal, as well as Greg Cerchione in my involvement with the Catholic Lawyers.”

Miller recalled the story of him joining the Columbian Lawyers when the group only accepted Italian-Americans (today anyone can join). The late Hon. Anthony Cutrona, known as the heart and soul of the organization, wanted him to join but wasn’t sure he could invite a non-Italian.

“He was wary because my last name is Miller,” said Miller. “I remember sitting around my office and he was trying to diplomatically find out where I’m from. He finally finds out that my grandparents came from Abruzzo and I’m three-quarters Italian. You could see the relief on his face.”

Miller went on to lecture on various topics within appellate law, but spent a good amount of time stressing the basics. He stressed that the court handles such a large caseload that attorneys who appear before them must be completely prepared for their case.

“Like all areas of law, whether you are trying cases, preparing a will, doing a real estate transaction, the key to practicing at our appellate division, and I say this repeatedly — preparation, preparation, preparation,” Miller said.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, is comprised of 10 counties including Kings County. When the four appellate departments were created, the represented population size was roughly equal. Today, because of migration around the state, the Second Department consists of approximately 50 percent of the state’s population.

Miller explained that roughly 53 percent of all appeals that were heard in NYS were heard by the Second Department despite the fact that it has just 38 percent of the judges in the state. He himself hears approximately 20 cases a week plus additional submission and discipline cases.

“Think of the volume and think of the expectations you have for judges being prepared,” Miller said. “That means that we require you to get to the point, write succinctly and cover the key important issues in a case.”

The Columbian Lawyers Association will meet again for its 50th Annual Judiciary Night on Thursday, Dec. 7 at Gargiulo’s in Coney Island. Admission is restricted to members and invited judicial guests only.

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