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Judicial Excellence Awards: Recipients

Past Winners: 2014 | 2013 | 2012


2014 Judicial Excellence Award Honorees

Photo Photo

L - Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti, Administrative Judge James C. Tormey, III and Distinguished Jurist Award recipient the Hon. Martha Walsh Hood, Supervising Judge of Family Courts, Fifth Judicial District.
R - Distinguished Jurist Award recipient the Hon. Fernando Camacho, Suffolk County Supreme Court, accepting the award from Judge Prudenti and Administrative Judge C. Randall Hinrichs, Administrative Judge for the 10th Judicial District, Suffolk County


Distinguished Jurist Award

Hon. Martha Walsh Hood
Supervising Judge of Family Courts, Fifth Judicial District

A syracuse native and former Onondaga County legislator and senior attorney at the Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society, Hon. Martha Walsh Hood is widely respected for her fairness, integrity and exceptional work ethic. This lifelong public servant and champion of children’s rights was appointed to Onondaga County Family Court in February 2000, subsequently elected to the Family Court bench and designated an acting Supreme Court Justice. Today, she serves as Supervising Judge of Family Courts in New York’s Fifth Judicial District, comprising the counties of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego. Over the course of her judicial career, she has presided over several nontraditional “problem-solving” courts including Onondaga County’s Integrated Domestic Violence Court, which she helped launch.

Judge Walsh Hood’s formidable leadership qualities shine through each year as the District prepares for the annual Adoption Day celebration at Syracuse’s On- Center, where judges and staff from courts in Onondaga and neighboring counties volunteer their time on behalf of local families, finalizing dozens of adoptions in a single day. Judge Walsh Hood is an inspirational force to all involved in this celebration, typically held in November to help raise awareness about the thousands of youngsters in foster care nationwide in need of loving, permanent homes. Last year, she helped take the Syracuse event to the national stage, appearing in a “Today” show segment underscoring the joys of adoption. Even with her demanding schedule as supervising judge and numerous Adoption Day activities, she makes time for other “extra-judicial” duties, including participating on the Statewide Advisory Committee on Counsel for Children and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Judge Walsh Hood gives generously of her time and talents in support of the best interests of the children and families served by the Fifth Judicial District, exemplifying the highest standards of judicial excellence. It is a privilege to honor her with a 2014 Distinguished Jurist Award for her outstanding service.

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Hon. Fernando Camacho
Judge, Suffolk County Supreme Court

Hon. Fernando Camacho joined the Unified Court System in 1997, upon his appointment to New York City Criminal Court, Kings County. He later served on Queens County’s Criminal Court bench, taking on the role of deputy supervising judge and presiding over a domestic violence court, a jury trial part and a specialized court targeting teens charged with prostitutionrelated offenses. His idea to link teens charged with prostitution-related crimes to services in lieu of jail helped spur the recent rollout of New York’s Human Trafficking Intervention Initiative, the nation’s first statewide system of dedicated courts to identify and assist offenders who may be trafficking victims in an effort to break the cycle of exploitation and arrest. Judge Camacho was very familiar with the issues surrounding these cases, having spent the first part of his legal career as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, assigned to the District Attorney’s Trial Division and Sex Crimes Unit.

Judge Camacho was eventually elevated to the New York Court of Claims and designated an acting Supreme Court Justice. In May 2009, he was recruited for the post of Administrative Judge for Criminal Matters in Queens County, serving in that capacity until his move to Suffolk County Supreme Court in January 2013. With his ongoing focus on criminal justice approaches aimed at stopping the cycle of crime, Judge Camacho, while serving as Administrative Judge, also presided over the Queens County Supreme Court’s Youth Diversion Part, created exclusively to handle cases of adolescents charged with felonies. He is presently working with the court system’s justice partners in Suffolk County to develop a similar court there.

Judge Camacho has earned the praise of judicial colleagues and justice system experts around the state for his energetic leadership and out-of-the-box thinking toward the development of viable approaches to halt the revolving door of justice. We are delighted to present him with a 2014 Distinguished Jurist Award for his steady commitment to the pursuit of justice.

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2013 Judicial Excellence Award Honorees

Photo Photo

L-R: Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti, Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
the Hon. Thomas Mercure, Acting District Administrative Judge for the Third Judicial
District and the Distinguished Jurist Award recipient the Hon. Marybeth Richroath,
Judge, Family Court of the City of New York, Queens County.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Hon. Thomas E. Mercure
Acting District Administrative Judge for the Third Judicial District

Highly regarded for his legal acumen and steadfast devotion to the pursuit of justice, Thomas E. Mercure has served the Unified Court System admirably for over 30 years – 25 of them on the Appellate Division-Third Department bench, making him the longest-serving Justice in the Department’s 117-year history. He also led the Department as acting Presiding Justice from 2011 to 2012, during the illness and subsequent passing of the late Anthony Cardona. Just this past January, he graciously stepped into his newest role as Administrative Judge of the Third Judicial District. Undoubtedly, the District will benefit greatly from his vast knowledge and foresight. 

A Court of Appeals nominee – who temporarily sat on the high court in 1994 and 2011 – Justice Mercure has worn many hats over the course of his distinguished career. Starting in private practice, he subsequently joined the Washington County District Attorney’s Office, serving as First Assistant District Attorney and then as the County’s District Attorney. Justice Mercure was first elected to State Supreme Court in 1981, then re-elected in 1995 and again in 2009. Throughout his tenure, he has lent his time and talents to various committees, including as chair of the State Ethics Commission of the Unified Court System from 1996 to 2003.

Justice Mercure’s contributions to the New York courts and legal community are significant and many. In recognition of his long-standing judicial service, I am delighted to present him with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Distinguished Jurist Award

Hon. Marybeth Richroath
Judge, Family Court of the City of New York, Queens County

Queens County Family Court Judge Marybeth Richroath is the ultimate multitasker. In addition to the day-to-day challenges that come with managing a busy Family Court calendar, Judge Richroath leads a variety of committees working to enhance the processing of child-protective and other critical Family Court matters. Among her “extracurricular” duties, she chairs a citywide advisory committee on child-permanency planning. Despite the committee’s large size, Judge Richroath was able to address the collective concerns and harness the many talents of this cross-disciplinary group, resulting in the issuance of several insightful reports and the production of a resource guide to aid Family Court judges in their oversight of these difficult, highly complex matters, among other tangible achievements.

Judge Richroath’s leadership, keen judgment and tireless determination have also been assets to a citywide advisory group established by New York City Family Court Administrative Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson to expand best practices, and a subcommittee that, via more effective collection and evaluation of case data, is looking to implement systemic child-welfare reforms.

Since her appointment to the New York City Family Court bench in 2001, Judge Richroath has generously devoted her time and efforts to numerous initiatives supporting the best interests of children and families served by the Court, at the same time keeping up with a heavy Family Court caseload. It is a privilege to honor her with the 2013 Distinguished Jurist Award for her exemplary leadership and judicial service.

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2012 Judicial Excellence Award Honorees

Photo Photo
L-R: Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti, Justice Janice M. Rosa, Family and Supreme Courts, Eighth Judicial District and Justice Bernard J. Fried, New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division


Distinguished Jurist Award

Justice Janice M. Rosa
Family and Supreme Courts, Eighth Judicial District

Tireless in her pursuit to improve outcomes for families in crisis seeking resolution of their complex matters in our courts, the Honorable Janice Rosa is nationally renowned for her expertise in family and matrimonial law as well as in issues relating to domestic violence. She currently wears two hats in the courts’ Eighth Judicial District—located in Western New York and comprising eight counties—holding the titles of Supervising Judge of the Family Courts and Supervising Judge for Matrimonial Matters. At the same time, Justice Rosa manages a busy court calendar, traveling to courts around the Eighth District to preside over divorce and other matters, also working on initiatives aimed at implementing and expanding best practices in our courts and fostering judicial leadership. Additionally, she is an active member of numerous associations and sits on a variety of boards and committees, including the Board of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, with her list of endeavors going on and on.

Justice Rosa’s tenure with the Unified Court System started in Erie County Family Court, where she worked as a law clerk to a Family Court judge prior to her 1994 election to the County’s Family Court and subsequent election, in 2003, to the Supreme Court bench. Over the course of an illustrious court career, Justice Rosa has proven an innovative leader, establishing strong partnerships with the local bar, community leaders and others, and helping devise protocols for problem-solving court models that have enhanced the processing of cases involving domestic violence, child custody and other critical matters. Justice Rosa has also been a prolific contributor to legal education and judicial seminars hosted by the courts, bar associations and other groups, addressing topics ranging from permanency planning issues in child-protective cases to judicial leadership.

An inspirational force in the Eighth Judicial District and beyond, Justice Rosa embodies the highest ideals of judicial service. We are delighted this Law Day to honor her with our Judicial Excellence Distinguished Jurist Award for her unflagging efforts as judge, educator, mentor and leader, and her invaluable contributions to the Unified Court System and those it serves.

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Lifetime Achievement Award

Justice Bernard J. Fried
New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division

Justice Bernard Fried is a pillar of New York’s legal community, widely regarded for his keen intellect, sterling character and unparalleled dedication to the legal profession and public service. A former federal prosecutor and law clerk (from January 1969 to June 1970) to then-Associate Judge Charles Breitel of the New York Court of Appeals, he began his legal career as a member of the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps and for nearly the past 32 years has admirably served our state bench, first in New York City Criminal Court, later in Bronx County Supreme Court, and most recently in New York County Supreme Court, where he now sits in the Commercial Division.

In addition to his distinguished judicial service, Justice Fried has contributed to a variety of legal education programs, including the New York State-Federal Judicial Council Seminar on expert witnesses, the Federal Bar Council Winter Meetings and the International Moot Courts in the Hague. He also served on the courts’ Commission on the Jury—whose recommendations led to significant reforms to New York’s jury system—and is a member of a new task force commissioned by the Chief Judge to ensure the continued high standing of New York’s Commercial Division, which plays a crucial role in promoting the state’s economic vitality. For 27 years, from 1981 to 2008, Justice Fried shared his vast expertise with—and imparted his uncommon wisdom to—countless aspiring attorneys in his role as an adjunct law professor at Brooklyn Law School, his alma mater.

Justice Fried’s impressive résumé reflects his unbridled energy, passion for the law and leadership. As his peers will quickly tell you, he is always among the first to take on additional work or sign up for a new committee. Consistently demonstrating the highest level of judiciousness, integrity and compassion, Justice Fried has earned numerous accolades over the years. Sadly, Justice Fried will be retiring in July. His presence on the bench will be sorely missed, and we wish him well as he moves on to new pursuits. In gratitude of Justice Fried’s long-standing service to the New York courts and legal community, we proudly present him with our 2012 Judicial Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award.

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