Housing Court Bar Association honors six at annual awards luncheon
Judges Robin Sheares and Remy Smith among the honorees
The Kings County Housing Court Bar Association held its annual awards luncheon at Brooklyn Law School on Wednesday, June 5, and honored six people including Judges Hon. Robin Sheares and Hon. Remy Smith.
More than 200 people packed into Feil Hall for the event including dozens of judges and contingents from the Columbian Lawyers Association, the Catholic Lawyers Association, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association.
Association President Michael Rosenthal noted the breadth of the legal community that came together for the event, explaining that it was part of the purpose of creating the Housing Court Bar Association — not only to improve the Housing Court, but to create good working conditions between the judges, lawyers and court employees.
“One of the reasons this organization was originally formed 26 years ago was because some of the attorneys felt that they weren’t being respected, our time wasn’t being respected,” Rosenthal said. “We feel that events like this have helped to change that atmosphere. We find that in Brooklyn, unlike any other county, we’re like a club. Everyone gets along with one another, people offer help to each other, and get together at events like this on a regular basis.”
In addition to Judge Sheares and Judge Smith, the other honorees were Court Clerk Andrea Leon, Court Officer Grace Crehan, Brooklyn Eagle reporter Rob Abruzzese and attorney Michelle Staco, who died earlier this year.
“Unfortunately this year we lost Michelle Staco, who was an attorney admired by all of us. She had grace and compassion, she was intelligent and most of all she was human,” Rosenthal said. “For three months we shared an office, and on a daily basis we discussed cases, the courthouse and life. I miss her very much. I’m sorry that she has to be honored only because she passed because she deserved to be honored while she was still around.”
Justice Lisa Ottley introduced Justice Sheares and joked that the two competed to participate in local events in their neighborhoods.
“Robin has been an awesome friend and person. On the bench she is an incredible jurist,” said Justice Ottley. “What I admire most about her is that people admire her in her community. Her community knows her because she takes her time to give back and that is what’s important to her.”
Justice Marina Cora Mundy, who sits in Richmond County, introduced Judge Smith, who explained that even though the Housing Court can often be contentious, she feels people put forth an effort to be considerate when they can be.
“All of you bring grace and humanity to what is really a contentious job,” she said. “No matter who is wrong, someone is dissatisfied with most of our dealings. It’s litigation.
“I’m fortunate enough to have seen that through all of that, you all strive to understand that everything you do has an impact on an individual,” said Judge Smith. “Brooklyn is an amazing place and we don’t forget those nuances.”
Justice Rosemarie Montalbano introduced Leon and explained that the part she clerks in has a lot of money and emotions involved, but that her preparation and genuine attitude help make everything run more smoothly.
“Anyone who has been to Part 52 knows that Andrea is it,” Justice Montalbano said. “She is smart, she is humble, she is exceptional to the attorneys. She is invaluable to the judges, she knows more than most court attorneys and even more than most judges. It’s always a pleasure to work with her.”
Hon. Kimberly Slade Moser and Omar Shaid introduced Court Officer Grace Crehan. Judge Slade, who recently relocated to Richmond County, remarked how well prepared Crehan is in the courthouse and she joked that she is going to force Judge Hanna Cohen to let her have Crehan back if and when she returns to the bench in Brooklyn.
“You understand what the part means, what the individual people in a part can do, and when you get a part with an officer like Grace who is nice to the public, helpful, interactive, responsive, it’s like a dream,” Judge Slade said. “It makes a difficult job extremely easy. She just lightens your day.”
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