January 30, 2015: New York State Bar Association Honors Nine for Distinguished Service in Criminal Justice

By Communications Department

January 30, 2015

January 30, 2015: New York State Bar Association Honors Nine for Distinguished Service in Criminal Justice


By Communications Department

The New York State Bar Association has recognized three judges, four attorneys, a police chief and a nun for their outstanding contributions to the criminal justice community in 2014.

Five of the award winners were honored by the Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section January 29 during the Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in New York City. The remainder will be honored at the section’s May meeting in Saratoga Springs.

“The State Bar Criminal Justice Section takes great pleasure in honoring these exemplars of professionalism,” said Judge Mark R. Dwyer (Supreme Court, Kings County), chair of the Criminal Justice Section. “And, of course, we are especially pleased to note the career achievements of Judge Graffeo and Judge Smith, who both left the Court of Appeals in 2014 after years of extraordinary service to the people of New York.”

Award winners honored at the Annual Meeting include:

Judge Robert S. Smith, New York City, and Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, Albany (co-winners)

The Vincent E. Doyle, Jr. Award for Outstanding Judicial Contribution in the Criminal Justice System

Judge Robert S. Smith is a retired associate judge of the state Court of Appeals. Appointed by Governor George E. Pataki, he served from 2004 through 2014. Smith has taught at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law since 2006.

Judge Victoria A. Graffeo also served on the State Court of Appeals from 2000 when she was appointed by Pataki to November 2014 when her 14-year term expired.  She is a partner at Harris Beach and leader of  its alternative dispute resolution practice group.

Terrence M. Connors, Buffalo

Charles F. Crimi Memorial Award

Terrence M. Connors (Connors & Vilardo) concentrates his practice in civil and criminal litigation and is a frequent lecturer and author on trial practice. Connors represents numerous judges from various courts before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and has represented lawyers in grievance proceedings before the Appellate Division, often on a pro bono basis.

Judge Robert T. Russell, Buffalo

Outstanding Contribution to Bar & Community

Judge Robert T. Russell, Jr., is an associate judge for Buffalo City Court and serves as an acting Erie County court judge. He established, and presides over the nation’s first “Veterans’ Treatment Court” as well as Buffalo’s Drug Treatment Court and Buffalo’s Mental Health Treatment Court.

Gerald F. Mollen, Broome County

Outstanding Prosecutor

Gerald F. Mollen has served as Broome County District Attorney since 1987, leading the county to the forefront of prosecution standards. He helped establish a multi-disciplinary child abuse review team, the Broome County Gang Task Force and the Broome County Gang Prevention Program. Mollen created protocols for the start-to-finish video recording of suspect interviews by police in major felony cases, making Broome County one of the first counties in the state to fully implement the practice.

Award winners who will be honored in May include:

Sister Teresa Fitzgerald, Long Island City

Outstanding Contribution in the Field of Correctional Services

Sister Teresa Fitzgerald is the executive director of Hour Children, a not-for-profit organization that provides services to mothers both inside and outside of prison. Assistance includes reuniting families, providing housing, employment training, mentoring and day care.

Chief Margaret E. Ryan, Dryden Police Department/former president of the NYS Association of Chiefs of Police

Outstanding Police Contribution in the Criminal Justice System

Margaret E. Ryan has served as chief of the Dryden Police Department since 2002. She oversees the 17-officer department and is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, where she serves on the Juvenile Justice & Child Protection Committee and the Smaller Police Department Technical Assistance Program Advisory Group.

Janet C. Somes, Rochester

Outstanding Appellate Practitioner Award

Janet C. Somes has worked in the Monroe County public defender’s office since 1985. She has practiced in all levels of the trial sections of the office, and in 1990 joined the Appeals Bureau. She is vice president of the Honeoye Falls-Lima Board of Education and is a founding member and trustee of the Honeoye Falls-Lima Education Fund.

Andrew Kossover, New Paltz

The Michele S. Maxian Award for Outstanding Public Defense Practitioner

Andrew Kossover is a partner at Kossover Law Offices and is Ulster County’s chief public defender. He is a member of the adjunct faculty at the State University of New York at New Paltz,  president-elect and co-legislative chair of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and serves on the executive committee of the Criminal Justice Section of the New York State Bar Association. He also is a member of the advisory group of the New York State Justice Task Force on Wrongful Convictions.

The New York State Bar Association, with 74,000 members, is the largest voluntary state bar association in the country. It was founded in 1876.


Contact: Christina Couto

Senior Media Writer



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