Kings County Criminal Bar Association honors retiring judges during holiday party
The Kings County Criminal Bar Association hosted its annual holiday party on Thursday, Dec. 14 in Brooklyn Heights where it celebrated its achievements of the past year and honored three retiring justices.
KCCBA President Michael Cibella recognized retiring Brooklyn Supreme Court justices Hon. James P. Sullivan, Hon. Michael J. Brennan and Hon. Neil Firetog. Rather than presenting the judges with a plaque, Cibella announced that the association would donate money on the behalf of each judge, and donated to the Mercy Home for Children, the Wounded Warriors Project and the American Cancer Society, respectively.
“They are leaving our community, but hopefully they will come back to nights like this and come to our meetings or our golf outing,” Cibella said.
The party was catered by L&B Spumoni Gardens and the Cut Slip Quartet, a band that includes three court officers which played Christmas music throughout the party. More than 100 people came in and out of the three-hour-long party held at the Brooklyn Bar Association building. The only speech was a short one by Cibella praising the judges as well as reflecting on the groups charitable events from the past year.
“We had some really great CLEs this year,” Cibella said. “Some great speakers including NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill. We also had Nancy Slater, past president Gary Farrell’s wife, speaking for the Police Department; Allison Lewis, Paul Hirsh’s wife, speaking about DNA from the Legal Aid Society; and Karen Newirth, who was about seven or eight months pregnant at the time, but still came to speak to us about the new identification law from the Innocence Project.”
Cibella also talked about the inaugural golf outing that KCCBA held over the summer that helped raise money which went towards a $2,500 scholarship to a Brooklyn Law School student, and a $6,000 donation to YWCA of Brooklyn and Families Rising, part of New York Foundlings.
Cibella then took time to honor the three retiring judges. He described Sullivan as a judge who doesn’t make it about himself, who prided himself on ensuring a fair process for all involved.
“I’ve spoken to a number of attorneys, I’ve done some hearings in front of Judge Sullivan, and everyone stresses how fair a trial they got under Judge Sullivan,” Cibella said. “And that’s all that we’re looking for — a fair shot.”
Cibella talked about the importance of Brennan‘s work the Veterans Treatment Court, which he has presided over in the later years of his career.
“The emotion that you will see on Judge Brennan’s face when he would see the graduates who had drug problems, violence problems, but got it together through the program and their life is in a better place,” Cibella said. “We thank Judge Brennan for giving people opportunities, for spearheading that program, and for being a model for the rest of the country.”
Cibella called Firetog, a past KCCBA honoree, a “legend” and joked that it was ironic that a judge with a reputation for being so tough was in the New York Post a week before his retirement mocked for being soft on crime.
“Yes, he’s a tough guy to do a trial in front of. You have to be on your A-game, you’ve got to be prepared,” Cibella said. “He also wasn’t afraid to make a tough decision if he felt that it was fair.”
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