South Brooklyn lawyers rally behind Judge Graham’s Surrogate’s Court campaign

March 17, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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BAY RIDGE — Justice Bernard Graham, who was elected to sit in the Kings County Supreme Court, has been serving as the acting Surrogate’s Court Judge since Hon. Carol Edmead retired at the end of the last year. Now he’s running to keep his new job in the Surrogate’s Court and a group of Brooklyn attorneys are backing him.

The local attorneys gathered with Graham’s friends and family at the Wicked Monk on Thursday, March 9, to help the judge known for his community activism to get elected.

Joanne Monaco (left) and Mary Ann Stathopoulos.

“Judge Graham is an excellent jurist who treats people with fairness, civility, compassion and humanity,” said Dominic Famulari. “These are all excellent qualities for a judge of the Surrogate’s Court to possess. All of the co-hosts of the event enthusiastically support Judge Graham’s candidacy for the Surrogate’s Court as it will have a positive impact on the people of Brooklyn. The Supreme Court’s loss will be the Surrogate’s Court’s gain.”

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Justice Bernard Graham is a born and raised Brooklynite who attended Stuyvesant High School and got his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He is known in his neighborhood of Park Slope for being involved in various local organizations, including the Boy Scout Troop 412, located at St. Saviour’s Parish, which he joined in 1972.

From left: Gregory LaSpina, James Cahill and Jimmy Lathrop.

After completing his education, Bernard Graham worked at Certilman Haft Lebow Balin Buckley & Kremer, where he practiced real estate development law and co-op and condominium law. In 1989, he became a partner in the law practice of Graham & Graham with his mother, Nancy Graham.

From left: Marisa Arrabito, Gianna Famulari and Andrea Bonina.

Bernard Graham also served as legal counsel to several churches, youth organizations and charities. He is a member of various legal associations, including the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association, the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of Kings County, the Brooklyn Bar Association and the Brehon Law Society.

“We are supporting Acting Surrogate Bernard Graham because he has an exceptional combination of experience, temperament, sense of fairness, knowledge of the law and that certain intangible quality of excellence that renders him immensely qualified to be Surrogate Judge,” Bruno Codispoti said.

In 2004, Bernard Graham was elected to the Civil Court of Kings County. He volunteered for assignment to the Brooklyn Family Court in 2007, where he presided over domestic violence cases and conducted trials of custody and visitation cases. In 2011, he was appointed an acting Supreme Court Justice and assigned to the Supreme Court of Kings County.

In 2013, he was elected to the Kings County Supreme Court and assigned to preside over the Commercial Foreclosure Part. He was assigned to the Mental Hygiene Part in 2014 and the dedicated Medical Malpractice Part in 2018.

Marianne Bertuna (left) and Susanne Gennusa.

“I couldn’t be happier to support Judge Graham for Surrogate,” said William Gillen. “He’s such a widely respected Judge and great person, it’s easy to see why he has such tremendous support from his colleagues and community.”

The Judge has received numerous awards for his contributions to the community, including the Thomas Cuite Award, the Justice Joseph Bellard Award, the President’s Award from the Park Slope Civic Council, the James Brennan Community Service Award, the Judiciary Award from the Brehon Law Society, and the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild Judiciary Award. In 2017, he received the Brooklyn Bar Association Judiciary Award.

The Surrogate’s Court is a court that deals with probate and estate administration matters, including the distribution of assets after someone has passed away. It is responsible for handling wills, appointing and supervising guardians for minors, handling adoptions, and overseeing trusts.

The Surrogate’s Court is important because it provides a legal forum for resolving disputes over the distribution of assets, ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are carried out according to their will or other legal documents, and protecting the interests of minor children and other vulnerable individuals.

From left: Margherita Racanelli, Hon. Bernard Graham and Marty Golden, former State Senator and City Council member.
John Famulari, Jane Carbonaro and Bruno Codispoti.
Dominic Famulari (left) and Gregory Lendino.
From left: Bruno Codispoti, Joe Bova and Mark Hannah.

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