|The Hon. Rolando T. Acosta, elected as a New York State Supreme Court Justice in New York County in 2002, was appointed in January 2008 to the Appellate Division, First Department. Prior to his election to the Supreme Court, Justice Acosta had been designated as an Acting Supreme Court Justice to preside over, and spearhead the creation of, The Harlem Community Justice Center, a multi-jurisdictional, "problem-solving" court. Justice Acosta was elected to a County-wide Civil Court judgeship in New York County in 1997. Justice Acosta served as the President of the Association of Judges of Hispanic Heritage, and was selected as the 2004 Judge of the Year by the National Hispanic Bar Association. He is the recipient of the 2008 John Carro Award for Judicial Excellence "in recognition of his leadership and scholarly work as a New York State jurist and his work as a mentor and teacher with the Latino Community."
Justice Acosta was raised in the South Bronx and Washington Heights, after having immigrated from the Dominican Republic at the age of 14. He is a 1979 graduate of Columbia College and a 1982 graduate of Columbia University School of Law, and is the recipient of Columbia University’s "Medal for Excellence," conferred at the University’s 2000 Commencement Exercises.
Prior to being elected to the Bench, Justice Acosta held various posts with the Legal Aid Society, including the Attorney-in-Charge of the largest civil trial office (1994-1995) and Director of Government and Community Relations, where he was responsible for developing the Society’s legislative agenda and addressing government attacks on the Society and the poor. Justice Acosta served as the Human Rights Commission’s Deputy Commissioner for Law Enforcement. In this role, he was responsible for directing all of the Commission’s investigatory and prosecutorial functions, including the planning and execution of litigation strategy. In December 1993, Justice Acosta was appointed by Mayor Dinkins as a Commissioner of Human Rights.
Justice Acosta has been active in the development of the Washington Heights/Inwood social service infrastructure. For example, he helped found the Latino Commission on AIDS and served as legal adviser to the founding board of Alianza Dominicana. He also served as treasurer and Chair of the Policy Committee of the Hispanic Federation. In 1995, he was appointed to serve as a founding board member of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (EZ). Until 1999, Justice Acosta served on the EZ’s Executive Committee and chaired its Human Capital Development Committee, which he led in considering and recommending to the EZ Board all human capital and quality of life proposals.
Justice Acosta has been actively involved in numerous other community, civic, legal, and quasi-government organizations, including The Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections and the Continuing Legal Education Board (CLE). Justice Acosta is currently a member of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, a Trustee of Columbia University, Vice President of the New York City Bar Association, and is a Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation.
Justice Acosta was the starting pitcher for the Columbia Lions and received every athletic prize that can be awarded to a pitcher by the Ivy League and the Intercollegiate Baseball League during four years of varsity play, including First team All Ivy League three times and Pitcher of the Year twice. Justice Acosta still holds Columbia’s season and career wins records and was inducted to the Columbia University Athletic Hall of Fame in October 2008.