Scales of justice in harmony: Kings County Supreme Court hits high notes on Law Day

May 12, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Brooklyn’s courtrooms were alive with the sound of music and resounding speeches as the Kings County Supreme Court celebrated its annual Law Day on Wednesday at the iconic courthouse on 360 Adams St.

The event brought together the brightest legal minds in the State, including the freshly minted Chief Judge Rowan Wilson and a host of Brooklyn’s own juristic superstars.

Chief Judge Rowan Wilson.

Law Day, an annual celebration held on May 1, is a national event designed to honor the rule of law and its pivotal role in safeguarding our liberties and sustaining our democracy. The tradition dates back to 1958 when President Dwight Eisenhower established the day as a national dedication to the principles of governance under law. This year, Brooklyn celebrated in a grand style, honoring its Supreme Court justices and demonstrating the unity and strength of its legal community.

The star-studded roster of attendees included the new Chief Judge Rowan Wilson, the acting chief administrative judge of the Courts of New York, Hon. Tamiko Amaker, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the New York City Courts, Hon. Deborah Kaplan, and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives, Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson.

Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson is at home in Brooklyn joking around with Hon. Lawrence Knipel.

Brooklyn’s own celebrated legal heavyweights, Hon. Lawrence Knipel and Hon. Matthew D’Emic, who serve as the administrative judges of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil and Criminal Terms, respectively, were also present.

The keynote address was delivered by Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the current Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, who underscored the importance of mentorship in the legal community. “My focus right now is on mentorship … as my mother used to tell me, it doesn’t make any sense being the first if you don’t pave the way for someone else,” she noted.

In a surprising turn of events that left the crowd on their feet, Judges Knipel and D’Emic strummed out a rendition of “This Land is Your Land” on their guitars, adding a touch of the unexpected to the proceedings.

Judges Lawrence Knipel and Matthew D’Emic bring harmony to Law Day with a heartfelt rendition of “This Land is Your Land” for Law Day, which was celebrated in Brooklyn on Wednesday, May 10.

This year’s theme, “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration,” was prominently discussed in Chief Judge Wilson’s speech. He spoke of the nation’s history, filled with conflicts and resolutions, and the importance of understanding different perspectives to bridge divides.

Justice Kaplan, who began her career in the very courthouse where the event took place, spoke about the significance of civility in the legal process, emphasizing the importance of treating people with the dignity they deserve.

From left: Chief Judge Rowan Wilson, Hon. Tamiko Amaker, and Hon. Deborah Kaplan.

Justice Richardson-Mendelson reflected on the power of the law and the importance of promoting justice for all. “I’m so pleased to promote justice for all which is ours to provide for you all,” she stated.

The first in-person Law Day since the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was also a moment of reflection. Retired Surrogate’s Court Judge Frank Seddio led a moment of silence for judges Johnny Lee Baynes, Noach Dear, Gerard Rosenberg, and the many court officers and employees who sadly passed away due to the virus.

Hon. Frank Seddio held a moment of silence for the judges, court officers, and court personnel who died during COVID as it was the first in-person Law Day event at the courthouse since 2019.

In a testament to the resilience and dedication of the legal community, Justice Hinds-Radix spoke of survival and the road ahead. “As I look across the room, I see very few masks, we have survived the pandemic…as I view this as almost on the other side I want us to think about what we can do to build the cornerstones of Law Day.”

Brooklyn’s judiciary, including the Hon. Bernard Graham, shows up in large numbers every year during Law Day.

In her keynote address, Justice Hinds-Radix, the current Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, emphasized the significance of mentorship in the legal community.

She cited her own experience with mentorship, saying, “As my mother used to tell me, it doesn’t make any sense being the first if you don’t pave the way for someone else.”

She urged her peers to focus on paving the way for the next generation of legal minds, making sure they have the tools they need to keep the justice system strong.

Betsey Jean-Jacques, President of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kings County, and Marisa Arrabito.

The celebration of Law Day at the Kings County Supreme Court was a day of reflection, resilience, and the shared commitment to uphold the principles of democracy, civics, civility, and collaboration. As the courthouse doors closed, attendees left with a renewed sense of purpose and the melody of “This Land is Your Land” ringing in their ears, a potent reminder of the collective responsibility to uphold the principles of justice and fairness that form the cornerstone of our democracy.

From left: Hon. Theresa Ciccotto, Turquoise Haskin, and Hon. Lorna McAllister.
From left: Hon. Rosemarie Montalbano, Hon. Steven Mostofsky, and Steve Cohn.
Hon. Ellen Spodek, President of the Brooklyn Brandeis Society.
From left: Hon. Maria Aragona, Hon. Sherveal Mimes, and Hon. Larry Martin.
From left: Hon. Danny Chun, Hon. Matthew D’Emic, and Hon. Lawrence Knipel.

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