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Sanford Rubenstein receives the NBA Judicial Council Award for Civil Rights

July 23, 2019 Rob Abruzzese
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Civil rights attorney Sanford Rubenstein will be recognized by the National Bar Association Judicial Council during the association’s annual Thurgood Marshall Luncheon in Manhattan on Wednesday.

The Judicial Council will present Rubenstein with the Judicial Council Chair’s Award for Civil Rights. The prestigious award is being given to the Brooklyn attorney for his work representing victims of police brutality and wrongdoing, and as an activist.

Sanford Rubenstein has been honored by multiple civil rights groups including the NAACP.
Eagle file photo

Rubenstein gained fame for representing Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was assaulted and sexually abused by NYPD officers in 1997, and Sean Bell, who was shot by NYPD officers 50 times while he was celebrating the morning before his wedding.

More recently, Rubenstein represented the estate of Eric Garner in the early stages of litigation against New York City and the NYPD, and the estate of Kalief Browder, who was held for three years in jail and spent 400 days in solitary confinement while awaiting trial before his eventual suicide.

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Rubenstein was also an outspoken critic of “stop and frisk,” an NYPD tactic that was eventually declared unconstitutional by a federal judge.

Rubenstein’s partner, Scott Rynecki (pictured third from right), was recently installed as a trustee in the Brooklyn Bar Association. Eagle file photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Rubenstein has called upon other attorneys, especially younger ones, to get more involved in protecting civil rights.

“(Young lawyers need) to advocate on behalf of victims in the courtroom and in the streets as well, to get change so what happens to one victim does not happen to others,” Rubenstein said.

This is hardly the first time Rubenstein has been honored for his work with civil rights. He has received awards and recognition from the NAACP, Black Lives Matter Greater New York, Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and the Black Institute. He had also received the Johnnie Cochran Jr. Justice Award.

“Sanford Rubenstein stands out among lawyers because he truly is a warrior for social justice,” said Hawk Newsome, the chair of Black Lives Matter Greater New York.

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