Florina Altshiler is the managing attorney for the Buffalo, NY, office of Russo & Toner LLP, a New York City-based litigation firm. She also teaches two trial advocacy courses at Columbia University, School of Professional Studies. In Buffalo, Florina teaches Continuing Legal Education courses through the Erie County Bar Association on topics including litigation and trial technique and has been published in the Buffalo Law Journal on topics including criminal and civil litigation.
Ms. Altshiler has offered legal commentary throughout the country and has been quoted by the Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports and the Miami Herald. She appears regularly on the ABC affiliate-WKBW, Channel 7, to offer legal commentary on the evening news. She has also appeared on the NBC affiliate-WGRZ, Channel 2, CBS affiliate News 8 Rochester, and Time Warner Cable News. She is also routinely quoted by the Buffalo News and has been interviewed by Dr. Drew for KABC Los Angeles.
Prior to relocating to Buffalo, Ms. Altshiler served as a prosecutor for the State of Alaska, where she handled the prosecution of all levels of crime through jury trial. Florina has served as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy, both civil and criminal, at St. John's School of Law, where she was a Rosenberg Scholar and an Institutional Merit Scholar. She has received the Dr. Thomas C. Beneventano Award for Legal Medicine and an Excellence for the Future Award in Criminal Trial Advocacy, as well as the U.S. President's Student Service Award for Outstanding Service to America and United Hospital Fund's Student Achievement Award.
Marco Cercone, Esq., a partner at Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC is a trial attorney who concentrates his practice in first-party insurance coverage, claim investigation, and the litigation of first-party property insurance claims including arson, fraud, material misrepresentation, and property valuation claims. Mr. Cercone also handles subrogation and commercial matters, the defense of housing code violation cases, and the litigation of contested foreclosure cases. Mr. Cercone also has served as appellate counsel in matters involving commercial and first-party property insurance cases. He has lectured to numerous organizations and insurance professionals on various topics including arson claims, bad-faith, appraisal under the standard fire insurance policy, and mortgagee claims. Mr. Cercone has worked closely with municipal and federal authorities to assist in the successful prosecution of arson cases.
Mr. Cercone received his B.A. degree summa cum laude from Duquesne University in 1997. He received his M.P.A. degree from The George Washington University in 1999, and he was awarded his J.D. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo law school in 2002. He also is an adjunct instructor in the Paralegal Studies program at Daemen College, and he serves as Chair of the Operations and Infrastructure Committee at Rupp Baase.
Kyle DiDone is an attorney with the law firm Rupp Baase Pfalzgraf Cunningham LLC. His practice focuses on creditors’ rights, commercial litigation, and bankruptcy. Mr. DiDone represents a wide range of clients throughout the state, including individuals, corporations, private financial organizations, national and local banking institutions, and credit unions. Mr. DiDone is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and Canisius College.
Richard F. DiGiacomo, Esq. is a partner in the law firm of Nesper, Ferber, DiGiacomo, Johnson & Grimm LLP, Amherst, NY and practices in the areas of real property law and finance related law. Concentrating on commercial loan closings, purchases, sales, leases, Industrial Development Agency transactions, U.S. Small Business Administration and other quasi-governmental transactions, title insurance and residential real estate closings.
He was named as Real Estate Law Lawyer of the Year for 2012 for Buffalo, New York in the "Best Lawyers in America" Woodward/White Inc. publication. He also has been named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" for over fifteen consecutive years in the area of Real Estate Law in Woodward/White, Inc. publication.
Bernadette Hoppe became an attorney after working for 20 years in the arenas of reproductive health, perinatal health and HIV/AIDS. Her daily practice is in family law, representing parents, children and relatives in custody/visitation, abuse/neglect, family offenses, divorces, child support and related proceedings. She currently co-chairs the Practices and Procedures Committee in Family Court, which is a committee of the Erie County Bar Association. She is on the Assigned Counsel Panel of the Erie County Bar Association, representing poor clients who cannot afford to pay for an attorney. She serves on the Fourth Department Attorneys for Children panel, and is frequently appointed by judges to represent children in Family Court and divorce proceedings. Ms. Hoppe participates in various efforts to improve the outcomes of families in the child welfare system.
Ms. Hoppe sustains her interest in perinatal health through her participation on the Board of Directors of the National Perinatal Association. She is co-chairing a national project on establishing best practices in clinical settings as well as the legal and child welfare system for pregnant, drug-using women and their babies, with a focus on opiates. She also serves on the Board of Directors for numerous other community organizations, including Neighborhood Legal Services. She is a frequent speaker on issues including reproductive and perinatal health, poverty and health, and various aspects of the child welfare system.
Ms. Hoppe holds a M.A. in Women’s Studies, a J.D. with a concentration on health law, and a M.P.H., all from the University at Buffalo. She serves as adjunct instructor at the University at Buffalo Law School, in Buffalo NY.
Ms. Hoppe has received a variety of honors and awards throughout her professional career. Most recently, she was honored by the Volunteer Lawyers Project as "Divorce Attorney of the Year" in 2013, the Assigned Counsel Program’s "Family Court Attorney of the Year" in 2014, and the Women Lawyers Association "Woman Lawyer of the Year" in 2014.
In her spare time, Ms, Hoppe likes to purchase fabric and occasionally actually sew it into apparel, and buy fun gemstones for bedazzling jewelry. She and her wife, Mary, manage 3 dogs and 2 households.
Judge E. Jeannette Ogden was appointed to the Buffalo City Court in June of 1995 by the Mayor of Buffalo, NY. Her broad based experience in the law was cited as the basis for her appointment. In November of 1995, Judge Ogden was elected to serve a ten (10) year term on the Buffalo City Court and re-elected to serve another (10) year term in 2005. In January 2001, Judge Ogden was appointed as an Acting County Court Judge. The appointment was expanded to Acting Family Court Judge in January, 2003. Judge Ogden currently serves on all three (3) Courts and has presided over thousands of criminal and civil cases.
Judge Ogden has regularly received and reviewed the work product of attorneys and paralegals for over twenty (20) years.
Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge Ogden worked as a Trial Lawyer for CIGNA Insurance Companies defending corporations, school districts, hospitals and municipalities, while at the same time operating her own private general law practice. She personally employed and supervised paralegals on a regular basis during this time period.
Judge Ogden is also a former Prosecutor with the Erie County District Attorneys Office and a former Assistant Erie County Attorney. She consistently worked with the nurse paralegal in the Erie County Attorneys Office.
Judge Ogden is a graduate of Buffalo Public Schools and Buffalo State College, where she earned a degree in Criminal Justice and periodically returns to teach. She received her Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of New York at Buffalo Law School where she presently instructs courses in Trial Technique and Mental Health Issues in Criminal Law. Judge Ogden has worked as an adjunct instructor with the University at Buffalo Law School for 16 years/
Her professional affiliations include memberships on the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics; Vice Chair of the Gender and Racial Fairness Committee for NY Courts in the 8th Judicial District; the Character & Fitness Committee of the NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division 4th Dept.; the Erie Community College Criminal Justice Advisory Committee; the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International; the Women's Bar Association of WNY; the American, New York State and Erie County Bar Associations and the National Associations of Women Judges. She is Vice President of the NYS Women Judges Association and a Past President of the University of Buffalo Law Alumni Association, the Erie County Bar Foundation, the Women Lawyers of WNY and the Minority Bar Association of WNY, Inc.
Judge Ogden presently serves as a mentor to high school, college and law students. She supervises paralegal studies students from Erie Community and Monroe College Colleges.
Judge Ogden also offers internship experiences to Buffalo Public High School, Tapestry Charter High School and Buffalo State College Students.
Judge Ogden is the recipient of many awards and acknowledgments for her long standing community involvement. She exemplifies the product of hard work, perseverance and commitment. Judge Ogden attributes all of her accomplishments to the support of a loving family and a strong belief in God.
Ms. Plants earned her Bachelor of Arts in English, Summa Cum Laude, from Hartwick College and her Juris Doctor, Magna Cum Laude, from Valparaiso University School of Law. After graduating from law school, Ms. Plants spent the next 10 years practicing in the litigation department of a major Buffalo law firm and teaching Legal Research and Writing at a local law school. Thereafter, Ms. Plants returned to school herself, earning her Master of Science in Education, Adolescent, with a 4.0 GPA, from Medaille College. Ms. Plants currently teaches English Language Arts at a local school district.
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Jennifer is a community activist and multiple-award recipient with extensive trial and international public speaking experience. This experience has included: an invited speaker the United States Congressional Committee on Veterans Affairs, speaking engagements throughout the United States and Europe, a frequent speaker at the University at Buffalo School of Law, developer and lecturer for CLE programs in Erie and Monroe County, an adjunct professor at Trocaire College as well as a frequent judge for the Law School’s moot court and oral argument programs. Having been active in the court system in addition to running a busy litigation practice, Jennifer was a member of an ad hoc committee headed by Justice Janice M. Rosa, J.S.C. for the development of a veteran’s civil docket for matrimonial and family court matters.
Prior to her current role as an Administrative Law Judge, Jennifer served as a Small Claims Hearing Officer for Buffalo City Court, presiding over small claims matters brought by attorneys and pro se litigants. Additionally, Jennifer is a leader in her Bar Association’s activities including three committee chairmanships, as well as an author of several Bar Association articles. She is a board member of both Aid to Indigent Prisoners, Inc. and Judges and Police Conference of Western New York Board Member, in addition to being the past President of Women Lawyers of Western New York.
In 2013, Jennifer ran in the general election for Erie County Legislature. Currently, she is an author, adjunct professor at Daemen College and an Administrative Law Judge with the Department of Corrections and Community Services. Jennifer’s research interests include international law and ethics, recidivism and treatment courts, sex offender treatment efficacy, and gender parity in politics and law.