By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of the legal community gathered in Brooklyn’s Family Courthouse Wednesday to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. The first of such events to be held at the courthouse located at 330 Jay St., the celebration focused on the importance of “Familias” and the role the Hispanic community has played throughout and within New York’s court system.
“It is my distinct pleasure to host this, the first Hispanic Month event,” said Brooklyn Family Court Supervising Judge Jeanette Ruiz. With Brooklyn containing “the largest family court system in the country,” it seemed only fitting to host the celebration in the court that offers the “highest standard of justice to the families and children that are before us.”
Retired New York State Court of Appeals Judge Carmen Beauchamp-Ciparick delivered remarks from Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who expressed his apologies for being unable to attend the event in person. Hispanic Heritage month is to “honor the many Hispanic Americans who have influenced our court system and community,” Lippman’s letter read. “It is also a time to recognize the difficult obstacles that Latinos have had to overcome,” he continued.
Remembering the triumphs and progress of the Latino community within the New York court system, including the appointment of Beauchamp-Ciparick as the first Latina to be appointed to the Court of Appeals and Hon. Jenny Rivera, who followed as the second Latina on the state’s highest bench, was given as much significance as recognizing the struggles that the Latino community has faced and continues to face.
This month is “is a time for our country to pause, not just for the food and music, but also for the incredible contributions made by past generations to help make this country the one we have and the one we want it to be,” noted Rivera, the event’s keynote speaker.
Providing a bit of history as to the origins of Hispanic Heritage month, which begins Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15, Rivera noted that the start date is significant because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
During the ceremony, a moment of silence was observed for Brooklyn Family Court Judge Fernando Silva, who passed away in July. “Silva had a brilliance, kindness and an ever-forgiving smile,” said Family Court Judge Michael Ambrosio.
Carol A. Robles-Román, deputy mayor for legal affairs and counsel to New York City Mayor Bloomberg, presented the court with a proclamation from Bloomberg. For the former Kings County Family Court attorney, “this was like coming home.” The staff [here] is the best in the Unified Court System because of the issues, the speed, the passion and the sympathy you have to deal with and apply on a daily basis,” she said.
Wednesday’s’ audience was treated to an operatic performance by Aixa Cruz-Falu, court interpreter for the Nassau County Courts, and guitarist Tony Delgado, a retired captain in Queens County Criminal Court.
Former court officer and present Acting Family Court Judge Leticia Ramirez closed the program, noting that the “significant contribution Latinas/Latinos have made to our court system.”