The Honorable Fern A. Fisher was presented with an award Tuesday afternoon at the Nassau County Supreme Court building in recognition of her achievements in granting litigants without representation the access to justice.
The award ceremony, overseen by the Nassau County Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts, the Nassau County Bar Association, and Nassau County Administrative Judge Anthony Marano, came as a surprise to Judge Fisher. "I thought I was just here to cut the ribbon on the new Court Information Center," she said.
Stephen W. Schlissel, Co-Chair of the Nassau County Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts, briefly spoke about Fisher's dedication the "Access to Justice" program:
"Yesterday, Judge Fisher was in Buffalo. Today, she is in Nassau County. Tonight she is going to Albany and coming back because she has a program to present tomorrow morning."
The ceremony, which coincided with "pro bono week" and "domestic violence awareness month," was a "fitting time" for the honor in Fisher's opinion.
"Many of you might not know that I am the daughter of a domestic violence victim and I learned early on what it is like not to have justice," she said. "I devoted my career to the access of justice because of my mother."
Fisher went on to describe the goals and urgency behind the "Access to Justice" program. "It means that people without an attorney get the same justice as people who do have an attorney," she said. "It means that people with special needs, people with mental disabilities, or domestic violence victims, get the same justice as everyone else."
As Administrative Judge of New York's Civil Courts, Fisher started the state's first resource center in the interest of lending assistance to those who could not afford an attorney. "Any one of us can have a divorce and not be able to afford an attorney," Fisher said. "Any one of us can be a domestic violence victim or be subject to foreclosure, so it is important that we continue to provide services.
"We are truly blessed in this state to have an individual as dedicated, as knowledgeable, as committed as Judge Fisher is to this important issue of access to justice," concluded Judge Anthony Marano.