Alumni Spotlight

Rosa ’87 Travels Path From Small Firm to Supreme Court Justice

Maria Rosa ’87

By Michael Hochanadel
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For Maria Rosa ’87, the path to New York State Supreme Court Justice traced equal parts practicality and old-school idealism, with foreign languages and private practice along the way. She covers the 9th Judicial District, which includes Dutchess, Westchester, Orange, Rockland and Putnam Counties, with chambers in Dutchess County.

“I liked the idea of helping people,” she said. “I believe in the American system of justice, and I wanted to be part of it.”

Bronx-born and raised in Whitestone, Queens, Rosa graduated from Bayside High School and then enrolled at the University at Albany, earning her BA in 1984 in Foreign Languages, specifically French with a business concentration, and Chinese.

Living in an apartment in a Lancaster Street brownstone, she enjoyed hiking and picnics in Thacher Park, dining at the former Quintessence and clubbing at the Rafters in Saratoga Springs.

After graduation, she envisioned a career in business law and practiced in a small Dutchess County private firm, becoming a partner. However, after 10 years in private practice, Rosa became full-time Principal Court Attorney to a Family Court Judge who later became a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

When her employer reached retirement age, she became a candidate for his seat on the Supreme Court. As she explained in public statements as a candidate, she embarked on this step “so that I may continue to serve the public in a manner that supports the true purpose of our democracy, and the tenets of the New York State and United States Constitutions based on justice and equality.” She further explained, “It is, and has always been, important to me that people who come to our courts leave with the feeling that their views have been heard and understood, and with the sense that our justice system works.”

Rosa said that in her Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 work, “I’m blessed with an extremely competent staff: a legal secretary, principal court attorney and court clerk.” She explained her principal challenge is to “move cases through in a timely fashion without sacrificing the quality of justice.” As one of three Supreme Court Justices in Dutchess County, she has more than 500 cases assigned to her, in all areas of civil law.

“Professor Siegel’s New York Practice course and the negotiation classes at Albany Law School were keenly applicable to my current role as judge,” said Rosa.

Rosa is a member of the Dutchess County Bar Association and the NYS Supreme Court Justices Association. She lives in Dutchess County with her family.

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