Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: May 1, 2000

Seal of the Unified Court System
Law Day 2000:
Outstanding Public Service Honored at the Court of Appeals
ALBANY - As part of today's Law Day celebration at the Court of Appeals, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman presented five court employees with Merit Performance Awards in the categories of superior work performance, community service and outstanding educational efforts. Also on hand to commemorate Law Day were Lieutenant Governor Mary O. Donohue, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and New York State Bar Association President Thomas O. Rice.

Chief Judge Kaye said, "Every year on Law Day, Judge Lippman and I have the privilege of presenting the Merit Performance Award - the judiciary's highest public service award - to a handful of  court employees singled out for special recognition by their colleagues and communities across the state. These individuals have distinguished themselves by their willingness to give unstintingly of their time and talents, going the extra mile on the job and in their communities and inspiring others along the way. Through their heroism, commitment to professional excellence, and humanitarian pursuits, these five honorees embody the very essence of public service and serve as shining examples to us all."

Recipients of this year's awards include a court officer who courageously donated part of his liver to a baby born with a rare enzyme deficiency; a chief clerk whose charitable works benefit disadvantaged women, children of incarcerated mothers and the homeless; a court supervisor who has not allowed multiple physical challenges to discourage her from tackling daunting professional assignments, leading her department to new heights of productivity; a deputy chief clerk who helps to bridge the gap between courts and the community through her educational efforts with youths; and a City Court office worker whose ingenuity and superior day-to-day work performance help to ensure the smooth functioning of the court.

Judge Lippman stated, "Today's Merit Performance Award recipients were chosen from among thousands of deserving and devoted court personnel for the many special contributions they have made to improving the services we provide to the public, for strengthening our ties to the community, for their commitment to helping those in need, and for giving of themselves - continuously and in every conceivable way. They inspire all of us to do more, showing that it just takes a willingness to give of our time and energies to make a difference."

The 2000 Merit Performance Award recipients are:

  •  Patricia Herlihy: Suffolk County Court; Deputy Chief Clerk
  •  Gloria Laskow: Suffolk County Supreme Court; Court  Assistant
  •  Sharon Thomas: Buffalo City Court; Chief Clerk
  •  Robert Watrous: Syracuse City Court; Principal Office Typist
  •  Joseph Zeisler: Bronx Civil Court, Housing Part; Court Officer
Earlier this year, a call for nominations of non-judicial Unified Court System employees for the Merit Performance Award Program was announced statewide. Nominations were accepted from court system employees, members of the bar, community and civic groups, and members of the public.

Detailed descriptions of the specific contributions of the award recipients can be obtained by calling the court system's Communications Office at (212) 428-2500.