Approaching the bench of the State of New York’s highest legal authority, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America counseled the court, “[God is] the source and foundation of the law” and “and He asks only that we do justly, and practice love and mercy, compassion and understanding,” opening the investiture ceremony of three new associate Judges—Madeline Singas, Anthony Cannataro, and Shirley Troutman, who are the most recently appointed Associate Judges of the New York State Court of Appeals on April 5, 2022.
Judge Madeline Singas, who previously served as the District Attorney of Nassau County, is the first Greek-American to serve on the state’s highest court. A first generation American, she was born in Massachusetts in 1966 with roots in the Epirote villages of Glina and Argirochori.
Not unlike many Greek-Americans, her parents were in the restaurant business. They moved the family to New York when Judge Singas was just six years old, where they operated a pizzeria in Astoria. “I came from very humble beginnings,” Singas stressed.
“My parents could not speak English—they came as immigrants to this country and today I am here to show that the American dream is alive and well,” she stated upon her 2015 appointment to the judiciary.
“Philotimo” is a distinct attribute of the Greek community that Singas’s parents imparted on her, teaching her by example the importance of service to others.
“My mother, who died too young, believed that everyone, no matter one’s means or station in life, had the ability to make life better or easier for someone else. She taught me to be strong yet humble, to be selfless and generous. My parents never denied anyone who needed their assistance, and they devoted time and support to their church and community.” For Judge Singas, this example instilled an abiding sense of duty to others, no matter who they were.
Hellenism and Orthodox Christianity were strong, influential presences that loomed large during Singas’ formative years.
“My Greek-American upbringing was very important to me and defined me.” She said in a 2015 interview to NGTV. She attended St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Cathedral School of Astoria through the eighth grade and continued to the Bronx High School of Science.
She completed her undergraduate studies at Barnard College at Columbia University in New York City and subsequently matriculated at Fordham University School of Law, earning a Juris Doctor in 1991.
But it’s her peers from Astoria’s St. Demetrios School, where she was part of groups like GOYA and Maids of Athena, that are still her closest friends today. And the importance of her Greek Orthodox upbringing and community is as strong now as it’s ever been.
“I was married in the church where I was baptized—and I baptized my children in that community as well. Today my children go to Greek school and play sports through the church. In fact, they play sports with the children of my schoolmates! That sense of ethnic pride, of belonging, were uniquely the result of my upbringing,” Judge Singas proudly delighted.
Singas was previously a prosecutor in Queens for 15 years before joining the Nassau DA’s office in 2006. She has specialized in domestic violence, sexual abuse and narcotics cases, and served as Nassau’s assistant chief prosecutor.
As the County’s Chief Assistant District Attorney, she supervised the prosecution of approximately 30,000 criminal cases each year, and helped design and implement numerous groundbreaking programs in cases involving adolescent offenders, veterans, and those who suffer from mental illness or drug abuse.
For all her trailblazing work and achievements, Judge Singas remains true to her humble roots, grounded in the Orthodox Christian and Hellenic values that her parents and community impressed upon her.
She says that one of her proudest moments was seeing the contentment of her father, “an immigrant with limited knowledge of our justice system, sitting in the courtroom proudly watching his daughter on trial, knowing that his hard work for his family had paid off.”
“Be proud of your heritage, and respect everyone,” Judge Singas enjoins.
Greek Orthdodoxy’s important personal meaning to Judge Singas was manifest in her first moments on the bench of New York’s highest court. In calling upon Archbishop Elpidophoros to open the investiture ceremony in prayer, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore remarked, “I know Judge Singas is very moved by the Archbishop’s presence here today.”
As he prayed, His Eminence asked that God grant the Judges grace and wisdom, and that He illuminate them with wakefulness for the people, just as He inspired the Judges of Israel and the Prophet-King Solomon.
“May they persevere in justice and righteousness…so that they may ever render wholesome and right judgments for all,” the Archbishop concluded, standing before the seven black-robed judges, his own black, flowing robes a reflection of theirs; an unspoken affirmation of their profound duty—to dispense justice in love and mercy, compassion and understanding.