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Stuart Rabner

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Glenn A. Grant, J.A.D.

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Vicinages Mark New Court Year With Ceremonies, Eulogies

By Mike Mathis
JT Briefing Editor and
Sandra Lopez
Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem Vicinage

Judge Bookbinder Speaks

For the first time in four years, there was no solemnity during Burlington Vicinage’s annual Opening of the Court ceremony.

That’s because no judges or lawyers who regularly practice in the Burlington County Courthouse died during the previous year. There was no tolling of the courthouse bell, and no heartfelt tributes to deceased jurists and attorneys by their colleagues.
Assignment Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder spoke instead about the collegiality of those in the legal profession in Burlington County.

"The lawyers who practice in Burlington County share a special bond with one another, and although from time to time lawyers may sit on opposite sides of the table as adversaries, they continue to work together to enhance the level of professionalism and service to the community," Bookbinder told fellow judges, Judiciary employees and dignitaries during the Sept. 8 ceremony in the historic Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly.

The court year officially began on July 1, but some courthouses mark the new year in September, when the courts would reopen following a summer recess.

Judge Curio at opening of courthouse
Georgia M. Curio, assignment judge for the Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem vicinage, and Brendan J. Kavanaugh, president of the Cumberland County Bar Association, stand beside a 1909 painting of the Cumberland County Courthouse. The painting, which was discovered in poor condition in the basement of the courthouse, was restored and will be displayed in the courthouse.

Although the courts no longer close for the summer due to larger caseloads, the tradition of celebrating the opening of court has been renewed in Burlington County, Cumberland County, Gloucester County and Mercer County.

Mercer County’s ceremony has been held for at least 25 years. The Burlington County Courts renewed the tradition in 2005, and the Cumberland Gloucester County courts revived the ceremony in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Mercer County’s ceremony on Sept. 8 included a memorial service during which eulogies for five attorneys who died during the previous year were delivered. The ceremony also
remarks from Assignment Judge Linda R. Feinberg and a flute solo by Judith Irizarry.

Burlington’s ceremony featured a video presentation about its Bench-Bar Oral History Project, an initiative in which eight judges and lawyers who practiced and served in the county were interviewed so that their experiences will not be forgotten.

During Cumberland’s ceremony, which was held in Bridgeton on Sept. 1, descendants of the original contractors who built the Cumberland County Courthouse in 1909 were recognized to mark the building’s 100th anniversary.

The event also included the presentation of a restored 1909 painting of the original Cumberland County Courthouse, which was built in 1845 and was demolished in February 1909.  

The painting was in poor condition when a county employee discovered it in the basement of the courthouse. Assignment Judge Georgia M. Curio gave the painting to the Cumberland County Bar Association, which paid for its restoration.

“I guess we survived the 100-year flood,” joked Curio, referring to the Aug. 12 deluge that caused significant damage to the courthouse.

Gloucester County is scheduled to hold its Opening of the Courts ceremony on Sept. 17.

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