Former Brooklyn Family Court Judge Betty Staton honored by State Bar Association

April 26, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Betty Staton, a former Family Court judge and the current president of Brooklyn Legal Services, has been named the recipient of the prestigious Haywood Burns Memorial Award given out annually by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA).

The NYSBA gave it in recognition of her lifelong dedication to serving and empowering underprivileged people and people of color in her Brooklyn community. The Haywood Burns Memorial Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to New York that reflect Dean Burns’ commitment to justice, civil rights and the empowerment of the powerless.

“I am thrilled to be presenting Judge Staton with this award,” said NYSBA President Sherry Levin Wallach. “Her lifelong dedication to providing free legal services to members of her Brooklyn community who desperately need representation embodies the ideals of W. Haywood Burns, this award’s namesake.”

The award ceremony will take place on April 25 at the City University of New York School of Law Auditorium and Community Room.

Staton’s impressive journey includes graduating from Brooklyn College while raising two young sons as a single parent, attending New York University School of Law on a full scholarship, and working at Bedford Stuyvesant Community Legal Services for eight years. While she was a law school student, Judge Staton was also among four students who established the organization now known as the NYU Law Alumni of Color Association.

Her first job after law school was at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Legal Services, where she stayed for eight years. In 1987, she became a founding member of the first African American female law firm in the country and in 1991, Mayor David Dinkins appointed Staton to a ten-year term on the Family Court. She was reappointed in 2001 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

After her mandatory retirement in 2004, Staton returned to Bedford Stuyvesant Community Legal Services, eventually becoming the executive director and later, president of Brooklyn Legal Services.

Throughout her career, Staton has mentored students and young attorneys, received numerous community and professional awards, and volunteered with various community and professional organizations.

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