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Kings County Criminal Bar Association awards scholarship to Brooklyn Law School Student

KCCBA president praises trend of students entering criminal justice field

October 22, 2018 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Kings County Criminal Bar Association and President Michael Cibella (right) presented Brooklyn Law School student Aleksandra Ciric (pictured at center next to Interim Dean Maryellen Fullerton) with the Hon. Ruth Moskowitz Memorial Scholarship. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese

The Kings County Criminal Bar Association awarded a third-year Brooklyn Law School student with a $2,500 scholarship in the name of former Justice Ruth Moskowitz during its most recent meeting in Brooklyn Heights on Thursday.

Aleksandra Ciric is studying to practice criminal justice law. She stood out to KCCBA because of her four years as an investigator at the Department of Correction on Rikers Island, and her work for the federal defender program in Atlanta, the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Defender Services’ Immigration Unit and Bronx Defenders.

“Essentially, she worked for the CCRB of Rikers Island and had to question captains and lieutenants about assaults, attacks, about way too many deaths in custody and not backing down,” said KCCBA President Michael Cibella. “She learned a great deal and decided that this was something she wanted to continue to pursue.

“She is just a genuine person,” Cibella continued. “Her personality and her interested in this shined through when we interviewed her and it’s clear that she’s going places in the world of criminal justice.”

Before Cibella presented Ciric and Interim Dean and Professor at Law at Brooklyn College, Maryellen Fullerton with a check, he talked a bit about a recent trend he has seen at law schools that he’s excited by.

“The three finalists that we met with were all in the top 10 percent of their class at Brooklyn Law School,” Cibella said. “I’m a graduate of BLS and I don’t remember anybody in the top 10 percent of my class who even looked at anything but big law or a clerkship for a judge.

“It is incredible to see how many young, bright, incredibly smart young people who all want to get into the world of criminal justice. It’s hard to say what’s encouraging them, but it’s really good to see young people trying to save the world.”

Dean Fullerton agreed that the rise in law school students interested in careers in criminal justice is on the rise.

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“I predict we’ll have more and more candidates for this scholarship that means so much to students who are going to school at a time of immense cost for law school,” Fullerton said. “To have members of the bar who contribute in a routine way is extraordinary.”

The scholarship is named for Justice Ruth Moskowitz, a former judge in the Kings County Supreme Court and the mother of KCCBA past President Robert Gerson. This is the second year in a row the scholarship was given out after it was ended due to previous financial constraints of the bar association.

Justice Moskowitz was a graduate of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School. A member of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, she initially worked for the Legal Aid Society before she joined the bench in 1976 and was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1982.

“We were fortunate with the financial times as they’ve been the last few years, especially starting with past presidents Jay Schwitzman and Michael Farkas, that we were able to reinstate this scholarship,” Cibella said.

At Thursday’s meeting, Cibella made a donation to the New York Foundling, Families Rising; the YWCA of Brooklyn; and the Elementary School Sports League. KCCBA has worked a great deal with Families Rising since Cibella has been president because of his passion for juvenile justice.

“It helps to keep children and young adults out of jail and teaches them to make the right decisions going forward to remain out of jail,” Cibella said. “Making sure that they work and communicate with their families so that they are supported and not coming to the criminal justice system. Mollie and Families Rising are great at what they do and we’re proud to hand them a check to help out.”

Families Rising is a program that was started by Judge Michael Corriero that he is currently in the works of expanding in California as he works on the TV show “Hot Bench” with a fellow judge from Brooklyn, Hon. Patricia DiMango.

The money that goes toward the scholarships and charitable donations is raised by members throughout the year. The annual summer golf outing, organized by member Paul Hirsch, is a particularly big contributor to the fund.

 

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