Betsey Jean-Jacques installed as President of Catholic Lawyers Guild

Judges Cannataro, Robert Miller and Walker-Diallo among honorees

May 16, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kings County, Diocese of Brooklyn, held its 45th annual dinner at Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island on May 11, where new president Betsey Jean-Jacques was installed.

Jean-Jacques, a native of Brooklyn’s Flatlands area, has dedicated her career to law and social work. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Fordham University, she pursued a Juris Doctor and Master of Social Work from Syracuse University.

Jean-Jacques initially served as a Clinical Case Worker at Mercy First, assisting families with children in crisis. She later represented adults and children diagnosed with mental illnesses at the Mental Hygiene Legal Services in the Appellate Division Second Department.

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For the past five years, she has been the Principal Law Clerk to Hon. Francois Rivera in the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term. Jean-Jacques holds memberships in various Bar Associations, and she has served as a board member and treasurer of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association.

Betsey Jean-Jacques and Hon. Francois Rivera.

In addition to the installation ceremony for Jean-Jacques, the Guild honored five people including three judges, one of its beloved members who passed away in 2021, and the Eagle’s own photographer Mario Belluomo.

Hon. Carolyn Walker-Diallo received the Ecumenical Award, Hon. Anthony Cannataro received the Distinguished Jurist Award, and Hon. Robert Miller received the St. Thomas More Award. Belluomo was given the Hon. William T. Bellard Award, and Pamela Allred was posthumously given the President’s Award.

Gregory Cerchione and Joseph Rosato (right) present Hon. Carolyn Walker-Diallo with the Ecumenical Award.
Hon. Anthony Cannataro (right), the former acting Chief Judge of the State of New York, with Hon. Matthew D’Emic, just after Cannataro was presented with the Distinguished Jurist Award.

The event was a huge success with more than 200 judges and attorneys from Brooklyn and across the State congregated in Coney Island. Not only was Justice Cannataro, who served as the acting Chief Judge for the State of New York, honored, but Hon Hector LaSalle, the presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department was on hand to give remarks.

However, it was Belluomo’s speech that stole the show early on during the evening. The former court officer and photographer joked that he only ever got involved taking pictures of lawyers after he applied for a job with Playboy magazine and then later got confused as to what the Women’s Bar Association was.

“I just want to thank Justice Walker-Diallo for giving her speech after Mario because I didn’t want to follow that up,” Justice Cannataro joked.

Belluomo, an Italian-born American citizen, has had a diverse career as a court officer and photographer. After serving in the U.S. Army, he joined the New York City Police Department before accepting a role as a Court Officer in the Unified Court System in 1978. Simultaneously, Belluomo pursued his passion for photography, covering social events for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle since 1994.

After the Catholic Lawyers finally got Mario Belluomo to finish his speech, he posed for a photo with his family. Pictured from left: Elizabeth, Mario, Mario Jr., and Barbara Belluomo. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Eagle.

Hon. Walker-Diallo, the first Muslim to serve as a Judge in New York State, started her career as a litigation associate at Milbank LLP and later became an Assistant Corporation Counsel at the New York City Law Department. She has been an active judge since 2015, and currently serves as the Administrative Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York.

Justice Cannataro, an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, was born in New Jersey in 1965, Cannataro began his career as an Assistant Corporation Counsel with the New York City Law Department. He was elected Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York in 2011 and has served in various positions within the New York Court System.

Hon. Miller, a Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, was born and raised in Brooklyn. He has been a commercial litigation and arbitration specialist and was a partner at the international law firm of Reed Smith LLP. He was elected to the Supreme Court in November 2007 and has been serving in various roles within the court system ever since.

Hon. Robert Miller was one of five honorees by the Catholic Lawyers Guild. Pictured from left: Monsignor Kieran Harrington, Hon. Robert Miller, Gregory Cerchione, and Joseph Rosato.

The mood changed to one of reflection when Judge Aragona and Hon. Wayne Saitta presented the President’s Award to the family of Allred. Allred was a former court attorney to Justice Saitta and died in 2020 after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Allred was a graduate of Northeastern University and Brooklyn Law School. She was known to travel, scuba-dive, box, surf, cook, dance and always wore high heels every day while doing all of that.

Former Court Attorney Pamela Allred (right) poses with Hon. Lizette Colon during the Brooklyn Bar Association’s trip to Cuba in 2016. Allred was honored posthumously by the Guild with the President’s Award. Photo: Rob Abruzzese/Eagle.
Members of the Allred family appeared on behalf of their daughter, sister, and aunt to accept the President’s Award from Hon. Maria Aragona (far left) on behalf of the late Pamela Allred, a beloved member of the Guild.

Not only did Aragona and Saitta have a few words to share about Allred and what she meant to the legal community, but Arthur Aidala, the former president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, talked about a 2016 trip to Cuba with the BBA where he explained that Allred helped him out with his father and mother throughout the trip.

Arthur Aidala recalled the Brooklyn Bar Association trip to Cuba when he was president and how Pamela Allred helped him to take care of his parents during the trip.

The event ended with an installation ceremony for Jean-Jacques that was presided over by Hon. Francois Rivera. Jean-Jacques is currently running to become a judge in Brooklyn herself.

The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Kings County, established in the 1930s, was formed to provide a platform for Brooklyn Catholic Lawyers to discuss pertinent legal and social issues. Originally meeting at Saint Joseph’s College, the Guild has moved locations throughout the years, growing in both scope and membership. Today, the Guild boasts over 300 members, with a mission to uphold the integrity of law, respect moral values, and foster a sense of camaraderie.

Hon. Maria Aragona (far left in blue), now the immediate past president, was presented with her presidential medal by Gregory Cerchione, another past president of the Guild.
Hon. Frank Seddio (left) and Hon. Hector LaSalle, presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department.
From left: Yolanda Guadagnoli, president-elect of the Columbian Lawyers Association, Dominic Famulari, president of the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association, Adam Kalish, president-elect of the BRLA, Ryan Mahoney, and Joseph Bova.

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