Northern Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s criminal bar association honors five at annual awards

November 14, 2023 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
The Kings County Criminal Bar Association recently held its Annual Dinner at Giando on the Water in Williamsburg where it honored five including past president Jay Schwitzman (left) and Hon. Evelyn LaPorte (right). Pictured from left to right is Jay Schwitzman, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, President Darran Winslow, and Hon. Evelyn LaPorte.Photos: John McCarten/Brooklyn Eagle
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The Kings County Criminal Bar Association (KCCBA) recently celebrated its Annual Dinner at Giando on the Water on Thursday, Nov. 2, where it honored five prominent figures from Brooklyn’s legal community for their exceptional contributions. 

The event, highlighted by President Darran Winslow’s speech, recognized the distinguished service and achievements of Justice Evelyn LaPorte, Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kaminsky, Past President Jay Schwitzman, court employee Ariadne Sigault and court officer Lt. Mike Garcia.

Winslow’s address to the attendees, which included Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and numerous judges, stressed the importance of fostering cooperative relationships within the legal community. He emphasized the KCCBA’s mission of promoting justice through mutual understanding and respect among those in the judicial system.

“This is the first event since COVID that has truly been full steam,” Winslow said. “Some of the individuals being honored have waited a long time for this recognition — a couple of them were told they were going to be honored in 2020 and the event was canceled days before it was about to happen. So I’m very excited to be revisiting this long overdue recognition today.”

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Justice Evelyn LaPorte, known for her vibrant presence and esteemed legal career, was lauded as the Judge of the Year, celebrating her journey from a court reporter to a respected Supreme Court Judge. ADA Michelle Kaminsky, recognized for her work in the Gender Based Violence Division and her book on domestic violence, was awarded the Bob Kaye District Attorney of the Year.

At the heart of the evening was the recognition of Jay Schwitzman, a figure described by Michael Farkas, a past president of the KCCBA, as the ‘Father of the modern day KCCBA.’ Farkas commended Schwitzman for his tireless efforts in rejuvenating the organization, transforming it into a prominent and active participant in Brooklyn’s criminal justice landscape. 

Schwitzman’s dedication to the KCCBA was evident in his relentless pursuit of meaningful meetings and events, significantly boosting the association’s influence within the legal profession. This esteemed acknowledgment serves not just as a tribute to Schwitzman’s commitment but also as an inspiration to legal professionals throughout Brooklyn.

Schwitzman received the James Layton Koenig Defense Lawyer of the Year Award, acknowledging his lifetime achievement in criminal defense. The award was recently created following the death of a longtime member and active participant of the KCCBA.

“He is a respected and fierce trial lawyer,” Winslow said. “He is also fundamentally a realist, equally respected by both the District Attorney’s office and every Judge in this room. There will certainly be other lawyers to receive this award – there will be none more deserving.”

“We’ve been giving this award for many years, but this is the first time that it is being given under its new name,” Winslow added.

Ariadne Sigault, a key clerk in the mental health court, was honored as the Court Clerk of the Year for her unwavering dedication and pleasant demeanor under stress. Lt. Mike Garcia, celebrated for his compassion, professionalism, and leadership, was the inaugural recipient of the Court Officer of the Year award.

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