NORWICH – The Chenango County Bar Association organized the 52nd National Law Day celebration Friday, which honored Leland G. “Gary” Brookins with the 2010 Liberty Bell Award.
Supreme Court Justices Kevin M. Dowd and Elizabeth Garry, along with Chenango County Court Judge W. Howard Sullivan, presided at the county courthouse in Norwich for the event. The Afton Central School’s team was also recognized as this year’s winner of the County Mock Trial tournament and the Bar Association announced this year’s law school scholarship recipients.
Law Day was established by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 as “A day of national dedication to the principle of government under law.” Commemorated annually since that date, Law Day programs are conducted throughout the country by bar associations, courts, schools, and civic groups.
The annual Liberty Bell Award recognizes distinguished contributions to the community by non-lawyers who have fostered public understanding of the importance of law in our community.
A central part of the official legal proceeding involved Brookins’ friends and family speaking about his lifetime of community service and telling amusing personal stories.
Walt Prindle, a cousin and childhood friend of Brookins, said he was told six words by the honoree before speaking to the crowd: “Start funny. End serious. Five minutes,” he joked.
Prindle recalled the two men’s childhood experiences together in the Norwich area, which included antics such as an emergency room trip following a movie reenactment of walking across a bed of nails and Brookins talking five waterskiing friends, Prindle among them, into trying to break the unofficial record at Chenango Lake for most skiers pulled at once.