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Two principal law clerks vie for a spot on the Civil Court bench

Williamsburg and Greenpoint residents cast their votes June 23

June 5, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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On June 23, Brooklynites who live in Williamsburg and Greenpoint will have the opportunity to vote in the Democratic primary for Civil Court to decide between two candidates — Maria Aragona and Stephen Burzio.

The pair both work in the court system. Aragona is the principal law clerk for Justice Kenneth Sherman, and Burzio is the principal law clerk for Justice Carl Landicino. Both are active in local bar associations and are respected in the legal community.

Maria Aragona, pictured here with Justice Kenneth Sherman, during her ceremony where she was named Employee of the Year in March 2019 in Kings County Supreme Court. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Brooklyn Eagle

Aragona, a graduate of Hofstra Law School, has attempted to distinguish herself by pointing to her roots in the area and the community activism that she and her family have engaged in over the years. She has recently been honored by the Catholic Lawyers Guild, a group she now leads as president, and the Supreme Court named her Employee of the Year in 2019. Assemblymember Joseph Lentol has been one of her biggest endorsements.

“I’m the fourth generation of strong women who are community activists in Williamsburg,” Aragona said. “I’ve always been the type of person that people came to with advice. I’ve always wanted to help people. It’s why I went to law school, because I knew that a law degree would open those doors.”

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Stephen Burzio, pictured with Assemblymember Maritza Davila, is running for Civil Court in the Third Municipal District in Brooklyn, which includes the neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burzio

Burzio, a University of North Carolina School of Law graduate, moved to New York from Puerto Rico when he was seven years old. He feels that his background of growing up poor, and working with tenants in Housing Court makes him a strong candidate. Local political figures seem to agree, since he has endorsements from Assemblymember Maritza Davila, Councilmember Stephen Levin and District Leader Nick Rizzo.

“There were times where we were on public assistance, where we were facing the threat of eviction, or moving around a lot,” Burzio said. “It showed me that these public institutions can really have an impact on our lives and it inspired me to not only pursue a career in the law, but one in public service.”

The New York City Civil Court hears civil cases involving claims up to $25,000 and other matters referred to it by the Supreme Court. This includes small claims. The Civil Court also includes the Housing Court. Often, judges elected to this bench will serve at least one year in the Criminal Court. Both of the judges that the respective candidates work in the Supreme Court, Civil Term.

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