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Brooklyn Bar Association gives out new Trailblazer Award to past female presidents

December 7, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Bar Association Foundation held its annual dinner on Monday where it honored Justice Bernard Graham, Justice Rachel Adams and all of its past female presidents. Pictured from left: Avery Eli Okin, Hon. Bernard Graham, President Aimee Richter, Hon. Rachel Adams and Steve Cohn. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Brooklyn Bar Association (BBA) Foundation held its annual dinner on Monday at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge Hotel, where it honored a pair of judges and gave out its new trailblazer award to all of its past female presidents.

Current President Aimee Richter, who is BBA’s ninth female president, was the one who created the Vivian H. Agress Trailblazer Award and named it after the organization’s first female president. The inaugural recipients were Hon. Miriam Cyrulnik, Lynn R. Terrelonge, Hon. Nancy T. Sunshine, Rose Ann C. Branda, Diana J. Szochet, Andrea E. Bonina and Rebecca Rose Woodland.

The two judges who were honored were Hon. Rachel Adams and Hon. Bernard Graham, both justices of the Supreme Court, Kings County.

In addition, three judges who will retire this year were recognized: Hon. Randall T. Eng, presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department; Hon. Martin M. Solomon, justice of the Supreme Court; Kings County; and Hon. Neil J. Firetog, acting Supreme Court justice, Kings County.

“The judiciary in Brooklyn is a fantastic group of men and women,” Richter said. “Tonight we are honoring two of its best and we are also thanking three justices who are retiring this year.”

The primary function of the annual dinner is to raise money for the BBA Foundation, which carries out the charitable functions of the bar association. The total amount of money raised this year was not immediately available, but this year’s attendance of 871 people is the most ever.

The money raised goes toward projects like the Theodore T. Jones Scholarship given annually to a law school student, the 100 Year Association scholarship given to high school students interested in the legal profession and the Brooklyn Legal Pipeline, which helps minority students break into the legal field.

The money also goes to the law library, public programs and other projects. This year, the BBA Foundation donated $2,500 to the Puerto Rican Bar Association, which used the money for generators in Puerto Rico after the hurricanes.

“This support enables us to continue to do the good work that the BBA Foundation does,” said President-elect David Chidekel. “With your support the BBA Foundation continues its programs and more. This here tonight is the most successful dinner we have ever had.”

Adams was introduced by Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, who worked with her in the early days of their careers at DC37 Municipal Employees Legal Services as they represented union members in court. Judge Hinds-Radix spoke about Adams’ resume including her work forming the court’s Good and Welfare Committee under the auspices of the Kings County Board of Justices.

“I’m so very proud to receive this award with Justice Graham and the wonderful women who won the trailblazing award,” Adams said. “The BBA can look back proudly knowing that they have consistently valued all of its members and respected their strengths in the legal community regardless of gender.”

Justice Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge for the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Division, introduced Graham. He started by calling him an “iconic judge” who presided over the state’s first same-sex marriage in 2011 only a few hours before Knipel himself. Knipel then went on to explain that Graham’s good service extends well past the courtroom.

“He’s what I call, ‘Park Slope nobility,’” Knipel joked. He went on to explain that Graham’s father created the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, that the judge himself has been heavily involved in his local community and that he served as president of both the Prospect Park YMCA and the Park Slope Civic Council in the past.

Graham thanked many people, including his wife Rosemary Graham, who he said is the reason he is a judge, but made a special point to thank Hon. Frank Seddio. He even joked that Seddio’s impact on the Brooklyn court system has been so large that if they ever replace the statue of Christopher Columbus in front of the Kings County Supreme Court that they replace it with one of Seddio.

“One larger-than-life Italian to another,” he joked.

 


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