I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a fellow attorney who meant a great deal to me. Thomas Cocuzzi passed away on April 18th; his memorial service was this morning. St. Mary’s Church in downtown Rochester was packed with colleagues, friends and admirers of Tom. As his longtime partner, Mike Tallon, said during his remarks, Tom would have absolutely loved the gathering of people present to pay tribute to his life.
I cannot recall exactly when or where I first met Tom as a young ADA. Over the years, however, he came to represent to me the highest standards of my profession. The kindness he showed me over the years is too vast to describe in this space – suffice it to say I looked up to him a great deal as did so many of my colleagues.
Tom was the type of lawyer who made you proud to be part of the same profession as he was. Ask any criminal lawyer in Rochester, whether prosecutor, defense, law clerk or judge – everyone has a great “Cooz” story to share.
Tom fought a very courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. His battle began in earnest in 2010 right in the middle of the only felony case I ever tried against him. I’ll never forget his courage and strength – he went in for his first round of chemotherapy, and despite being given the option not to, came back the next day and continued on with the trial. That was his way – he approached the disease with grace and acceptance, never giving in to it while at the same time never letting it define his life or how he lived it.
I’m going to miss having coffee with him up in his office, I’ll miss breaking his chops about quitting smoking, and I’ll miss having him around as a guidepost on how to practice law with humanity and dignity. He was a giant, and I miss him already.