Remarks by NYCLA President Adrienne B. Koch at NYCLA Weinfeld Luncheon October 19, 2023

New York County Lawyers Association Weinfeld Luncheon

Remarks by Adrienne B. Koch
NYCLA President

October 19, 2023


Thank you, Scott – for a whole lot of things actually, but in this particular moment for helping us to set the tone.  

Although this is a festive event, we can’t help but be profoundly impacted by what’s going on right now in the world around us.

Nevertheless, it’s my hope that at least for a little while this afternoon this place of memory can also serve as a place of some respite, as we gather together, bench and bar, to honor both a respected and cherished member of our own community and more broadly the rule of law itself – which I believe will continue to be what saves us, as long as we can continue to preserve it.

In that spirit, I want to welcome all of you today. 

As always, we’re delighted to have many distinguished guests here with us.  We’d be at this all day if I tried to identify all of them individually, and I’ve only been allotted four minutes.  But there are a few I do want to recognize. 

First, I want to extend a special welcome to David Nachman, the husband of Judge Weinfeld’s granddaughter, Amy Schulman.  Amy wasn’t able to be here with us today, but we’re so pleased that David could make it. 

I also want to welcome and congratulate today’s honoree, Judge Reena Raggi of the Second Circuit, and to welcome Judge Carol Bagley Amon of the Eastern District of New York – a prior recipient of the award herself – who is here to help us present the award to Judge Raggi. 

Joining them in attendance today are a total of over 40 other federal judges, including three Chief Judges – Chief Judge Debra Livingston of the Second Circuit; Chief Judge Margo Brodie of the Eastern District; and Chief Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the Southern District (who herself received this award in 2019). 

Thank you all for being here. 

Today we celebrate both the memory of Judge Weinfeld and the esteemed jurist to whom we give the award that bears his name.  Even in these troubled times – and I might venture to say particularly in these troubled times – this is a special moment of warmth and collegiality.  NYCLA is greatly privileged to sponsor it.

When we think about Judge Weinfeld, among the things that come most readily to mind are his legendary work ethic, his devotion to fairness, and his repeatedly-expressed view that every case is important, regardless of its apparent stakes. 

But Judge Weinfeld’s love of the law is an equally important legacy.  He put it simply: “When, at a fairly early hour of the morning, I put the key into the door of my darkened chambers and walk across the room to start the day’s activities, I do so with the same enthusiasm that was mine the very first day of my judicial career. What one enjoys is not work. It is joy.”

At NYCLA, we take great joy in presenting an award in honor of a judge who was so deeply devoted to the profession and who so clearly understood the good that it can do in the world. 

You’ll hear more about this year’s recipient of that award in a little bit, when Judge Amon comes up here to introduce her.  But before I conclude I want to say just a few words about Judge Amon.

Judge Amon has a long and distinguished history of public service – from over a decade as an Assistant US Attorney, to over 30 years on the District Court, including five years of service as its Chief Judge. 

During those five years, Judge Amon not only received NYCLA’s Weinfeld Award; she also received the New York State Bar Association’s Haig Award for Distinguished Public Service, and the Federal Bar Council’s Emory Buckner Medal (which also honors outstanding public service).  That’s a lot of awards, but really the Bar couldn’t thank her enough for that service – we’ve only tried to do the best we could on that score.   

I want to note one more thing.  When Judge Amon herself received this award in 2014, it was Judge Raggi who introduced her.  So it’s especially fitting – and we’re especially honored – that today she is responding in kind by sharing with us her own introduction of Judge Raggi. 

I know I’m not the one you all came to see, so let me just conclude by expressing deep thanks to the Federal Courts Committee, and to its Co-Chairs Scott Klugman and Michael Eisenkraft.  To Scott in particular I want to say: as usual, nicely done.  You do it so well that you make it look easy – and I know it’s far from that.

And thank you – today and always – to NYCLA’s awesome staff. 

Everyone please enjoy your lunch and the rest of the program.