Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm not a huge fan of Steve Banko, who is one of those guys that reckons that because he was in the military his opinion has greater value than it would otherwise, but from time to time he makes a valid point. His "My View" column in yesterday's Buffalo News is one of those times.

We are getting a nice new federal courthouse in Buffalo, and there is some discussion about who should be honored when it is dedicated. There is considerable sentiment in favor of naming it for either Matt Urban or Wild Bill Donovan, but Banko thinks, and I agree, that a courthouse should be named for someone whose life was dedicated to the cause of justice. He proposes John Granville, who worked for the United States Agency for International Development in Kenya and Sudan; and Father Joe Bissonette, a local priest, and Sister Karen Klimczak, his successor-- a priest and a nun who worked with the poor and the dispossessed and were murdered in the course of their ministry.

We could all benefit by thinking about the lives of these people, I reckon, but it seems to me that Banko passes over the name of an individual whose life and work has centered on justice in our community, and who worked to bring about justice from the building that the new courthouse is replacing for over 40 years. The Hon. John T. Curtin is probably the greatest contributor to racial equality in Buffalo's history-- the guy who brought about the desegregation of the schools, and presided over and ruled on landmark cases over his entire time on the bench. Beyond that, he has been a hallmark of civility, and a lawyer's judge. Naming a courthouse for after Judge Curtin might encourage those of us who go to work in the building to think about the notion of seeking justice when we walk through the doors, empty our pockets, show our ID, pass through the magnetometer, pat our pockets, empty them again, go through the magnetometer again, and then proceed into the courtroom.

He deserves the honor.

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