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Legal community gathers at Borough Hall for Justice Dabiri’s retirement

June 5, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of Brooklyn’s legal community met at Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn on Friday for the retirement party of Hon. Gloria M. Dabiri (center). She is pictured with long-time colleagues Hon. Deborah Dowling (left) and Hon. Yvonne Lewis (right). Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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After serving Brooklyn from the bench for the last 27 years, Justice Gloria Dabiri has retired, and friends, judges and courthouse staff packed into Borough Hall on Friday for a party to say goodbye to her.

“We underline the word `party’ because she said that she would not come if this was going to be a stiff and stuffy event,” said her friend Celeste Morris, who served as the mistress of ceremony at the event.

More than 100 people gathered in the rotunda at Borough Hall as a group of Justice Dabiri’s closest friends and colleagues took turns sharing stories about her. One by one, they shared stories about how she touched their lives, or how good of a judge she was.

“Gloria, I don’t know if you remember this, but I was sitting at your kitchen table working on petition materials way back when you were first running for Supreme Court,” said Judge Wavny Toussaint. “I’m proud to have helped you in some way. That was the first time I was involved in an official campaign. That experience nudged me to where I am today.”

Justice Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge of the Supreme Court, Criminal Term, called Dabiri one of the “legendary great” judges.

“In 1990 she was appointed to Family Court, in 1995 she was elected by the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island to the NYS Supreme Court,” said Justice Knipel. “All of these years she has been one of our best trial judges, she’s the medical malpractice judge extraordinaire with years of groundbreaking decisions. It’s been an honor to be a colleague of yours.”

Justice Paul Wooten was quick to remind everyone that Justice Dabiri was known for her public service even before she got to the bench in the early ‘90s.

“When I met Gloria in the ‘80s, she and I worked together on a committee of young black lawyers whose job it was to challenge the system and to make a fair and equitable playing field for elected officials,” Wooten said. “There were days working on 24 Fulton St., people came and these attorneys gave up their free time and free service to give election law experience and legal experience for people running for public office.

“Gloria served that committee and didn’t charge a fee or ask anything in return,” Justice Wooten continued. “There were cases that upon appeal Gloria had to run to Albany. She did that at no cost.”

Others who spoke included Albert Vann, former NYS Assembly member and NYC Council member; Bill Weisberg, executive director of the non-profit Forestdale and former CEO of the Children’s Aid Society; Charles Small, chief clerk for civil matters at Kings County Supreme Court; Justice Deborah Dowling, Supreme Court, Criminal Term; Dr. Una Clarke, former City Council member; and Denise Durham Williams, vice president of programs at the Links Organization.

“Justice Dabiri is a highly intelligent jurist who is a prolific legal writer who has authored a number of decisions,” Justice Dowling said. “In a perfect world, without politics, she would have been an associate justice of the Court of Appeals. Or, at the very least, a judge on the Appellate Division, but you know that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

After the speeches and a song led by minister Tulani Kinard, food was served and a DJ played music that got everyone dancing.


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