By Charles F. Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
One of the most useful and popular programs designed to smooth the Kings County civil calendar process has been the Kings County Supreme Court Goldberg/Aronin Civil Forum, launched 14 years ago by then-Chief Administrative Justice Michael Pesce.
Held on a regular basis, this Forum provides an opportunity for barristers, jurists and court personnel to exchange views and information and has "done wonders for court house morale," according to former justice told us.
Today this colleagial, informative confab is led by Justice Donald Scott Kurtz, who announced that the next forum will take place Wednesday, March 12, 9 a.m. in the 11th floor boardroom of 360 Adams St.
Justice Kurtz always invites questions and comments in advance of the forum and has often resolved many matters in advance to streamline the actual scheduled agenda. In his announcement, he states that invitees should contact him either by email at [email protected] or by telephone at (347) 401 9097.
The forum’s name honors the late Justices Richard Goldberg and Irving Aronin, who served as chairs in earlier days.
One item likely to be brought up by trial lawyer Steve Harkavy is a plan to honor the late Irwin Kosover, one of the most respected defense counsels who practiced at 360 Adams St. for much of the building’s storied existence.
App. Justice Skelos Gives Sound Message To Incoming Lawyers
Every lawyer we know remembers the moment they were interviewed by a representative of the Character Committee and how they felt upon taking the oath and signing the Lawyers Register in the appropriate Appellate Division courtroom.
As I watched Appellate Division Justice Peter Skelos speak to some 60 smiling and nervous lawyers Tuesday morning on Monroe Place, it seemed to me that they might also long recall some of Justice Skelos’s words, which boldly yet subtly tackled one of the thorniest issues of the day: distinguishing “the law” from “freedom.”
Part of what A.D.J. Skelos was a tribute to the late Justice Steven W. Fisher, pointing out that "Those of us who had the privilege of working with Justice Fisher came to know him as a justice who was totally dedicated to the court and, more importantly, dedicated to the rule of law.
"Those words, dedicated to the rule of law, are the words which governed his career, and similarly they are the words which answer the question just posed ... how must we as attorneys conduct ourselves?
Justice Fisher was a fan of the movies, and so, he would often use a scene from a movie to articulate his position. One of his favorite movies was ‘The Ten Commandments,’ which recounts the Biblical story of freedom, the release of the Israelites from bondage and the rendering of the commandments, which embody the rule of law.
"As Moses came down from his 40 days in solitary prayer, he delivered the rule of law, the Ten Commandments, to his people.
"Among those in attendance was another Biblical character named Dathan, who was the leader of the rebels, and, as we know, he was Moses’s chief nemesis.
"After Moses delivered the Ten Commandments, a defiant Dathan yelled to Moses, `We will not live by your commandments, we are free.’
"In response, Moses instructed his people with the words: ‘There is no freedom without the law.”
"Those words," concluded Justice Skelos, “‘there is no freedom without law,’ were of great significance to Justice Fisher, as they are to all of us on the bench, and so they should be to you the newly minted attorneys, indeed as they should be to each and every person in this room.”
Many who heard this Biblical injunction, "There is no freedom without the law," had to see how the extremist media war against “activist judges” and lawyers reflects the wisdom of Moses, the late Justice Fisher.
Contrary to what we see and hear from power-addled extremists (Rush Limbaugh? Sen. Ted Cruz?) those who deride all jurists and lawyers for protecting the law really are, ironically, presenting a “clear and present danger” to their own true freedom.
Sharing the bench with Hon. Skelos Tuesday were four other Appellate Division Justices – the Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Hon. William Miller, Hon. Joseph Maltese and Hon. Colleen Duffy.