The relationship between Buffalo, NY and Rzeszow, Poland has a long and distinguished history. In the 1970’s, initial contacts with Rzeszow were made when Buffalo’s Chopin Singing Society performed in Rzeszow. Buffalo Mayor Stanley Makowski asked Parks Commissioner Gus Franczyk and Chopin’s President Ted Mikoll to serve as Co-Chairmen of the first Buffalo-Rzeszow Sister Cities committee. An agreement of cooperation was signed by Mayor Makowski on behalf of Buffalo and Mayor Bilut on behalf of Rzeszow on June 2,1975.
In November of 1990, Buffalo Mayor James Griffin reactivated the Buffalo-Rzeszow Committee. The committee incorporated as Buffalo-Rzeszow Sister Cities, Inc. in May of 1991.
Various exchanges have taken place between the two cities ever since. The most
recent example of cooperation involves the judges and lawyers of the two cities.
Earlier this year the boards of directors of the Buffalo-based Bar Association of Erie County, New York and the Okregowa Rada Adwokacka w Rzeszowie (ORA – District Bar Council of Rzeszow) approved the establishment of a cooperative relationship between the two professional organizations.
From October 10 through 16 of this year, at the invitation of the ORA, a delegation of WNY judges and attorneys, consisting of Chief Judge William M. Skretny of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Erie County Judge Michael Pietruszka, private attorneys Kathy Bestine and Anna Kobialka, and Assistant District Attorney Karen Korkuc visited Rzeszow.
The delegation members had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the Polish justice system by taking a part in a criminal trial at the District Court in Rzeszów as well as touring one of the newest and largest district court buildings in Poland. The group also visited the Court of Second Instance which is housed in the former Lubomirski Palace.
The mutual exchange of information on the respective legal systems of the U.S. and Poland continued with a presentation by Chief Judge Skretny on the judicial system in the United States with particular emphasis on the federal judiciary. Chief Judge Skretny’s speech was followed by a joint dinner between the delegation and members of the ORA at the Hotel Dworek where more informal discussions of the legal systems ensued.
With assistance from Karen Korkuc and Kathy Bestine, Judge Pietruszka delivered a lecture on the structure of the New York State court system and the practice of law in Western New York to upper level students at the University of Rzeszow Law School. That evening, the delegation met with Dr. Aleksander Bobko, the Rector of the University of Rzeszow, and Dr. Stanislaw Sagan, dean of the University of Rzeszow Law School. At that meeting the university officials expressed an interest in creating a relationship between their law school and the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.
It is mutually hoped that the visit will serve as a starting point for more extensive cooperation between the lawyers and judges of Buffalo and Rzeszow.
The delegation extends its heartfelt appreciation to all of the members of the ORA, especially Dean Wladyslaw Finiewicz, Vice Dean Dr. Peter Blajer, Roman Sobon Sr., Jan Rejman, Magdalena Kurowicka, and trainee lawyers Dominica Stromczynska, and Roman Sobon, Jr. for their participation and assistance. Ms. Kurowicka has agreed to submit articles on developments in Polish law as practiced in Rzeszow from time to time to the BAEC Bulletin.
Special thanks also goes out to Krzysztof Litwin, the liaison between the groups, for his hard work and generosity of time and talent in making the delegation’s visit such a great success, and former Rzeszow Mayor and Polish Senator Mieczyslaw Janowski for his assistance in making the delegation’s trip truly memorable.