Law Day comes once a year is celebrated nationally on May 1; this is the 56th time Law Day has been celebrated in the U.S. On Tuesday at the Rockland County Courthouse in New City, judges, lawyers and officials gathered from all over Rockland to reflect on how law and justice contribute to freedom in the U.S.
The Law Chair Committee Co-chairs are County Legislator Alden Wolfe and Sonia Crannage. Other members of the committee include Elizabeth Balsamo, Catherine Anne Johnson, Luis Torres and Julie Weinstein.
“The day is aimed to help people appreciate their liberties, affirm their loyalties to the U.S., especially in regards to equality and justice,” said Crannage. “This is a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law.”
“With caseloads on the rise and funding on the decline on all levels of government, courts are facing unprecedented challenges in processing cases in a timely and effective manner,” said Wolfe.
The theme selected by the American Bar this year for Law Day is “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.” Speakers during the Law Day celebration included:
- Robert Berliner, Supreme Court Judge of the 9th Judicial District
- Alden Wolfe, lawyer and county legislator
- Scott Vanderhoef, county executive
- Susan Cooper, Legal Aid Society of Rockland County
- Tom Zugibe, county district attorney
- Kathleen Goodfellow, president of the Rockland County Women’s Bar Association
The Legal Aid Society of Rockland County has represented low-income residents of the county in civil legal cases addressing their clients’ most fundamental needs since 1966.
“If you cannot afford a lawyer … then there’s no equal access to the court,” said Goodfellow. She added that this is the first time in 45 years that LASRC has had to turn away clients and cut staff due to lack of funding. LASRC is seeking donations and funding.
“Without our courts, (justice and peace) would not be possible. Open and accessible courts are the cornerstone of our society,” said Zugibe. “The quality of justice affects the health and wellbeing of the entire community. That courtroom must be open to defend our individual rights and ensure that we continue to be a free society.”
Keith Cornell, President Rockland County Bar Association, presented the mock trial award to Nyack High School’s mock trial team.
“Mock trial competitions help students understand the law court procedure and the legal system,” said Cornell. “Nyack HS won the county championship (out of five high schools) by defeating Albertus Magnus on April 17.”
He added that just this past Saturday, they also won at the regional level. They will advance to the State Championships later this month.
“This is their fifth year as county champions. I’m just getting used to it (their success). They’re in the top eight teams in the state,” said Duncan Lee, the team’s attorney coach. Nyack Teacher Kevin Sullivan is the team’s high school coach.
Cornell also presented the Liberty Bell Award to Dr. Oscar Cohen and Chief Howard Goldin.
Some of the things that Goldin is known for includes: retired chief from the Spring Valley Police Department, has received a purple heart from his time in the military and a previous Spring Valley Rotarian of the year.
As for Cohen, he was a teacher, principal and chief executive officer at the Lexington School and Center for the Deaf. He has served on the Nyack branch of the NAACP education committee.
The Rockland County Women’s Bar Association usually has an essay contest to award a student a scholarship. However, this year, they are donating $500 to the Children’s Center in the Family Court, said Goodfellow.
The Suffern Select Choir performed a few patriotic selections and the continental breakfast was sponsored by Dennis Ryan from Morgan Stanley, Sichol and Hicks, P.C. and Executive Land Abstract of New York, Inc.