The Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association (FCBA) held its Ninth Annual Dinner at the Genesee Grande Hotel in Syracuse on November 29, 2012. With Chief Judge Gary L. Sharpe as well as other members of the federal judiciary present, FCBA President Edward R. Conan presided over the dinner which brought together the judiciary and lawyers from across the Northern District of New York – a district that covers thirty-two counties in New York and a membership spanning from the Capitol Region to Central New York, and the North Country to the Southern Tier.
Attorneys who practice in the Northern District gathered with members of the federal judiciary in what has become a celebrated tradition. William K. Suter, Retired Major General, United States Army, and Clerk of the Supreme Court of the United States was the evening’s keynote speaker. General Suter shared his perspective on recent Supreme Court cases and his insights into the workings of our highest court. Also at the dinner, President Conan presented the Judge Duane Award to prominent Syracuse attorney, former Magistrate Judge and former United States Attorney, George H. Lowe. The Judge James Duane Award is bestowed each year upon a distinguished member of the bar who has carried on Judge Duane’s legacy of excellence in the practice of law, unwavering integrity, and a tireless commitment to the legal profession. President Conan, together with Chief Judge Sharpe, recognized 50-Year Members of the Northern District Bar and the law school student winners of the FCBA’s coveted Frederick J. Scullin Jr. Scholarship Award were announced.
Prior to the dinner, the FCBA held its Annual Meeting at which Chief Judge Sharpe provided a detailed and encouraging report from the Court. The annual meeting also marked the installation of new officers for 2013. Yvonne E. Hennessey from Albany will serve as President of the FCBA, John P. Langan from Syracuse will serve as President Elect, Jeffrey E. Hurd from Albany will serve as Vice-President, Michael J. Sciotti from Syracuse will serve as Vice-President, Mitchell J. Katz from Syracuse will serve as Secretary, and John G. McGowan from Syracuse will serve as Treasurer. Ms. Hennessey is excited about leading the Association during its tenth anniversary year and working with the new leadership team to serve the bench and bar by, among other things, administering a robust number of programs in the coming year. “The FCBA maintains an active calendar of events and is planning to organize and present in 2013 at least six federal practice-based continuing legal education programs, two admission ceremonies as well as other exciting sponsored and co-sponsored events. It will also continue its successful pro se assistance program to ensure access to justice for those without legal counsel” noted Ms. Hennessey.
Boasting record membership of roughly 600 federal court practitioners, the FCBA is particularly proud of its work in the area of pro se assistance, which provides guidance to litigants in matters of Court procedures and paperwork needed to prosecute or defend claims in federal civil actions. “The program has been viewed as a model, catching the attention of those in Washington” commented Ms. Hennessey. “It helps assure access to justice by those pursuing civil claims without the benefit of legal counsel.” To date, the program has assisted hundreds of litigants within the Northern District of New York and will continue to do so in 2013.