Fulton-Montgomery Community College student Rodney Schuyler was selected as the first place winner for The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York’s annually sponsored David A. Garfinkel Essay Competition. SUNY and CUNY Community College students from around the State were invited to write an original essay on a specified topic of legal history. This year’s topic was “THE BLUE AND THE GRAY: NEW YORK DURING THE CIVIL WAR.”
Rodney, a student of History, Instructor Ted Marotta, focused his essay on the role African-Americans played in the Civil War in pursuit of freedom and citizenship. It is entitled: Slave. Contraband. Soldier. Citizen. “I was very excited for Rodney when I learned he received first place,” exclaimed Marotta. “He’s one of my best students and he’s a real pleasure to have in class.”
Rodney, who has had a fascination with Civil War history from a very young age, was honored at the Law Day Ceremony held at the Court of Appeals Hall in Albany. He was presented with a $1,500 first prize by Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Fern Fisher.
Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower to mark the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day, which is subsequently codified (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 113). Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The American Bar Association is the official coordinator of Law Day.
The Albany Law Day Awards Presentation included remarks from Hon. Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals; Hon. Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General of the State of New York; and Vincent E. Doyle III, President, New York State Bar Association. Instructor Marotta and FM Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Shirlee Dufort attended the commemorative event.
The Society was launched in 2003 by its Founder, former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, with the mission of preserving the legal and judicial history of New York. It seeks to foster public appreciation and a better understanding of the rich legacy of the New York courts, the legal profession, and their contributions to the State and the nation. The essay competition began in 2008 with the generous funding of Gloria and Barry Garfinkel.
“We appreciate the support of faculty and staff who are instrumental in getting the word out to students about this opportunity, and a special “Thank you” to the professors from different disciplines who advise students as they write their essays on a specific topic of New York’s legal history,” stated Andrea Garcia, New York State Unified Court System Office of Public Affairs.