New York State Bar Association Presents Distinguished Jurist Award to Presiding Justice Hector LaSalle
The Judicial Section of the New York State Bar Association honored four judges including the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, Hector LaSalle, during Annual Meeting.
“The judiciary is the cornerstone of our justice system,” said Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association. “The hard work and dedication of our judges to make sure justice is served is paramount. Our award winners exemplify one of the most important values of the New York State Bar Association – to do the public good.”
Justice LaSalle, who oversees one of the nation’s busiest courts, received the Judicial Section’s highest honor, the Distinguished Jurist Award. He is credited with streamlining court processes to reduce a court backlog during the pandemic.
“Justice LaSalle is an exemplary judge whose hard work and innovation has improved court operations under tough circumstances, “said Justice Joanne D. Quinones who chairs the Judicial Section. “His work to modernize the court is an inspiration. “
Advancement of Judicial Diversity Awards
The three other award winners – Justices Erika M. Edwards, Sallie Manzanet-Daniels and Lillian Wan — are being recognized for advancing diversity on the bench.
Justice Edwards serves in the New York County Civil Term where she focuses on medical malpractice cases. She has previously served in city and county courts and the state Supreme Court in New York County. Her work on the bench follows a long career as a litigator specializing in criminal defense, personal injury and civil rights cases.
She is president of the Judicial Friends, which educates the community on the justice system and provided a place of support during the pandemic amid rising tensions following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
“Justice Edwards has devoted her career to advancing social and racial justice,” said Justice Quinones. “Her work as both an attorney and a judge create a lasting impact for access to justice for underrepresented communities.”
Justice Manzanet-Daniels is an associate justice in the Appellate Division, First Department. Her legal roots are in criminal defense in the Bronx. In 1999, voters elected her to the Civil Court in Bronx County and later to state Supreme Court, making her the youngest judge of Hispanic heritage elected to that court. She broke more barriers with her appointment to the Appellate Division by Gov. David Paterson, becoming the first Latina to serve on that court.
She spoke out about the court system’s lack of diversity during a joint legislative hearing on the judiciary dealing with court consolidation. In 2020, she published a report analyzing the disparity of representation on the judiciary, which helped secure additional appointments to the bench in 2021.
“Justice Manzanet-Daniels continues to break through barriers and use her influence to improve the judiciary across New York State,” said Justice Quinones. “Her mentorship of the next generation of Latino lawyers and judges will continue that movement to a more diversified court.”
In addition to her work on the bench, Justice Manzanet-Daniels mentors young people and describes community service as her greatest passion. She also founded the Dare to Dream scholarship, which benefits the Puerto Rican Bar Foundation, the Hispanic Federation and the Latino Judges Association Foundation.
Justice Wan serves as an associate justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department. Her nomination by Gov. Kathy Hochul in May of 2022 made her the first Asian American woman appointed to the Appellate Division. Her election to state Supreme Court in Brooklyn was also a first for a woman of Asian descent.
She has presided in Family Court in Bronx and Kings counties and the Court of Claims, focusing on guardianship and eviction proceedings. She also advocates for judicial diversity as a board member and immediate past president of the Asian American Judges Association of New York. Under her leadership, the association is growing and expanding to include communities outside of New York City.
“Justice Wan is dedicated to advancing judicial diversity in our courts,” said Quinones. “She has generously shared her wealth of experience with countless students, lawyers and fellow judges.”