Court Employees recognized during annual Mollen Awards
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Perhaps the most revered presiding justice ever to sit in the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department in Brooklyn was the Honorable Milton Mollen.
The Honorable Milton Mollen certainly has had a distinguished career as he served in World War II, served as general counsel of the Housing and Redevelopment Board, served on the Mayor’s Executive Committee for Housing, was a judge in the Criminal Court, the Supreme Court, the Appellate Division, and the Court of Appeals.
He later served as Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and then in retirement started JAMS, the largest for-profit mediation firm in New York at the time.
“After the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor he immediately signed up to join the Army,” said Mollen’s son Scott Mollen. “He had an easy job in the Midwest and he wanted to go to the front lines and he asked to be transferred. He was one of the first radar trained navigators. Until that time they only had scopes and if there were clouds they couldn’t drop their bombs.
“As one of the first radar trained navigators he earned the privilege of flying in the lead plane in the bomb squadron and that had the highest fatality rate,” Scott Mollen continued. “He was shot down over occupied France. 12 people were in the plane, 8 were killed, he survived. He was caught, put in a prisoner of war camp, they shot many prisoners in the camp for trying to escape. He tried to escape. I asked him if they were shooting people for trying to escape and in his typical understated way he said, ‘I didn’t like it there.’”
Scott Mollen recalled his father’s work in helping to create the Mitchell-Lama program that provided 100,000 homes to middle income families in New York City. He also discussed how his father helped Robert F. Kennedy prepare and win the U.S. Senate race in New York, how he helped improve the NYPD through the Safe Streets, Safe City program that added 6,000 members to the force, and finally his work on the Mollen Commission to root out corruption within the NYPD.
“He always took pains to say that in his opinion NY has the best police force in the world and the bad apples should not tarnish the reputation of the great work of the majority of the force,” Scott Mollen said. “His work was praised by the FBI, DEA, and he was asked to lecture by the UN in India, Germany, France. It became a model for setting up anti-corruption programs.”
Ultimately, Scott Mollen explained that his father loved being a judge more than anything else and explained that he was especially fond of the Appellate Division.
“My father’s first love was this court, he loved the judge’s of this court,” said Scott Mollen. “He fought for judicial raises and got it done at a time when the legislature wasn’t allowing any kinds of judicial raises. He fought for the staff because he believed that the day to day working of the court could not occur, the public could not be served without the staff behind the scenes that didn’t get as much public recognition as other people. The staff was very important to him.”
The court employees were so important to Mollen that before he died, he helped to establish the Milton Mollen Commitment to Excellence Awards to recognize some of the top court employees who serve the Second Judicial Department.
The annual awards ceremony is now in its 12th year and 10 people were honored during a ceremony in Brooklyn Heights on Wednesday. The honorees included Siobhan Shea-Gillespie, Nicole Smith, and Christopher Tropea, three court clerk specialists who serve the Operational Management Team at the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term.
“These three wonderful people and I have worked together for many years and one thing I’ll say about all of them is that they teach the judges, they teach the lawyers, they teach the DA and the litigants about everything,” said Justice Danny Chun, of the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term. “Even more than that, thank you for showing me a bit of patience and also to all of my colleagues. Throughout the pandemic they worked tirelessly to keep the court open, and keep it operational.”
Other honorees include Lynn McKelvey, chief clerk of the Orange County Supreme Court, Paul Paoli, principal court clerk in the Nassau County Supreme Court, Anne Marie Hein, deputy chief clerk of the Suffolk County Supreme Court, Irini Bekhit, alternative dispute resolution coordinator in the Staten Island Supreme Court, Randy Bowens, senior court clerk in the Office of Attorney for Children Program, and Anthony Diolosa, a NYS Court Officer, Sergeant, in the Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term.
“When the courts decided to go forward with jury trials after a long pause during the pandemic, Anthony was the sergeant chosen to be in charge of our first jury trial in Queens Supreme Criminal,” said Major Terrence Flanagan, of Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term.
“Everyday Anthony was running around making sure the jurors were safe and happy, dealing with the court, and he coordinated with the Department of Correction to ensure that the defendant was prepared for trial,” Major Flanagan continued. “Anthony was able to handle it all. The court constantly monitored the jurors to see how they felt and they all stated that they never felt their health and safety were at risk and gave Anthony and his crew great reviews.”
Also honored posthumously was Jenny Lin, principal appellate court attorney for the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department.
“I had the honor and pleasure of supervising and working with Jenny for approximately five years,” said Joseph Sorrentino, chief appellate court attorney. “In that time, I got to know her as a brilliant and hardworking lawyer, who was a generous and warm person, and whose positive attitude was infectious. Although I joined the motions department as a supervisor, I relied on Jenny for her expertise in Appellate motion practice. She had deep knowledge of how motions were handled in this court.”
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