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Chance Encounter

When N.Y. State Supreme Court Justice Lawrence Cooke came to New York City as a candidate for election to the State Court of Appeals, I was among the first attorneys he contacted. At the time, I was Chair of the Judiciary Committee of the New Democratic Coalition (NDC) - a political amalgam of the supporters of the Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy and then a potent force in New York politics.

The NDC endorsed Judge Cooke and I became treasurer of an independent committee supporting his election. He won that contest and later was appointed Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, New York's highest judicial office. Over the course of years, from time to time, I would appear before the Court.

Some time after his appointment as Chief Judge, I happened to be crossing the lobby of the Association of the Bar in New York City when I saw Judge Cooke talking with someone. It had been sometime since I had been involved in his campaign and I was curious about how well he remembered. As I approached he noticed me and smiled. Turning to his companion, he said:"I want you to meet John Klotz, one of the ten best lawyers in Manhattan."

A bit nonplused by the extravagance of his introduction, I stammered a demurer. "Well," he replied, "certainly in terms of ethics one the top seven or eight... ."

Judge Cooke passed away recently. May he rest in peace. A good friend and a great judge.

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