First Elected Greek-American Judge Sworn In

The Hon. John C.V. Katsanos, Civil Court judge, gave the closing remarks at his induction ceremony. (Photo by Costas Bej via The National Herald)

The Hon. John C.V. Katsanos was sworn in as a Civil Court judge on Jan. 23 in Jamaica, Queens. In his remarks, Rep. Joseph Crowley noted that Katsanos was the first Greek-American judge to be elected, “as he understood it” and applauded him and the Hellenic community, writes Eleni Sakellis in The National Herald. Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, also present, said that he had spoken with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos about the induction ceremony.

He conveyed that President Pavlopoulos gave his best regards to Judge Katsanos though he has not met him and Pavlopoulos added that it makes Greece, the motherland, proud when one of us makes it to such a high position.

Katsanos spoke of his immigrant story in his speech, saying how his parents first arrived in New York from Greece in 1963 before moving to Florence, South Carolina, where he was born. He described his mother’s influence on him.

“You will recall that the mid to late 1960s was an important time in the Civil Rights Movement when many milestones were reached. The Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965, the Supreme Court overturned state laws that restricted interracial marriages in 1967, and the Fair Housing Act was signed into law in 1968.

“Nonetheless, this was still a very divisive period in our society, particularly down South. I still remember the stories my mother would tell me about neighbors who encouraged her to sit in front of the local bus and not intermingle with anyone who did not look like her. In defiance, she would always sit in the back and followed her instinct to greet all of her fellow passengers, even in her broken, limited English.

“She always instilled in me the concept of fundamental fairness and treating everyone with kindness and respect – she would say ‘treat others the way that you want to be treated.’ Her words have always been at the front of my consciousness and have shaped my professional life.”

For more on the ceremony, including how his “career has come full circle,” according to Katsanos, and video of the event, go to The National Herald.

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