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Three government lawyers and a private Elma attorney all called to active military duty in Iraq have been selected to receive the Erie County Bar Association's prestigious Liberty Bell Award for distinguished service to the law profession, association officials have announced.

David J. State, senior deputy buffalo corporation counsel; Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert C. Moscati, DEA attorney Christopher Wisniewski and private attorney William D. Broderick Jr. will be honored at the bar group's Law Day Luncheon in the Grand Ballroom of the downtown Hyatt Regency at noon April 26.

Margaret M. Sullivan, Buffalo News editor and vice president, will be keynote speaker.

"We can think of no one more fitting to honor than our members who have made this significant sacrifice in preserving basic human liberties during wartime," said James M. Shaw, president of the bar association.

Shaw said Lt. Col. Moscati, Capt. State and Lt. Wisniewski all are stationed in Iraq with the Judge Advocate General Unit of the Buffalo-based National Guard 42nd Infantry Division -- the famed "Rainbow Division" -- and not expected home until late this year.

Broderick is a major with the Tonawanda-based 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion of the Army Reserve. He is currently back home briefly but will likely be called back to duty before the awards ceremony, Shaw said.

Moscati's wife, Barbara, and State's wife, Karen, are scheduled to accept the awards for their husbands. Relatives of Wisniewski and Broderick are expected to accept the awards for them, Shaw said.

Shaw said the bar group will also honor others at the luncheon, including Buffalo Police Commissioner Rocco Diina.

Diina will be presented the bar association's Police Officer Award "for his outstanding leadership ability in guiding the Police Department through difficult funding issues and staff reductions with no loss to public safety," Shaw said.

Neighborhood-based crime prevention programs Diina has established are credited with reducing the city's crime rate by about 35 percent, Shaw said.

Also being honored during the luncheon will be Nicholas G. Baich, chief clerk of State Supreme Court operations in Western New York; Jean Marie McCarthy, operations supervisor for the U.S. District Court here; and John Caher, Albany bureau chief of the New York Law Journal.

Shaw said Baich will be presented the Special Service Award, which goes to a non-lawyer, in recognition of "his dedicated services to the legal profession over the past 25 years (and) for his work in the creation of specialized sections of Supreme Court and a computerized case management system."

McCarthy will be presented the Justice Award, which is rarely bestowed, for her efforts in implementing the U.S. District Court's new case management system and her "diligent service to the court for the past 15 years" Shaw said.

Caher, a Buffalo native and graduate of St. Joseph Intercollegiate Institute and Utica College in Syracuse, will be presented the Media Award for the award-winning journalist's "excellence in reporting on such subjects as juvenile justice, the Bill of Rights and DNA fingerprinting," Shaw said.

Shaw said awards also will be presented to elementary and high school students involved in a variety of law-related education programs sponsored by the bar association. Also, the winning team in the 2005 high school mock trial tournament will be recognized.


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