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As news of Justice Sullivan's death circulated among the Island's legal and political community, quiet tributes to him began to pour in.
U.S. District Court Judge Eric Vitaliano, a Democrat and former state assemblyman, said Justice Sullivan swore him in as a member of the Assembly.
Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore), son of the late New York State Court of Appeals Judge Vito Titone, called Justice Sullivan's passing "a sad day for Staten Island."
Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island), son of the late New York State Supreme Court Justice Peter Cusick, said he "lost a dear family friend."
Kathleen Murphy, widow of the late District Attorney William Murphy, recalled how Justice Sullivan hired Murphy to be his chief assistant and Murphy later succeeded him as district attorney.
David Lehr was bureau chief of Criminal Court under Sullivan. He was later chief assistant district attorney under Murphy and was the Democratic candidate for district attorney in 2003.
Former Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon said Justice Sullivan had "a bit of Irish royalty with the great touch of the common man." "He was an incredible Staten Island treasure," McMahon said. "His life was so connected to the history of Staten Island. He left a great legacy of public service as an example for those who came after him. He treated everybody with decency, respect and kindness."
District Attorney Daniel Donovan, a Republican, said Justice Sullivan "was a man of great passion for his family, his faith and the law, who chose to dedicate his considerable talents to serving the people of Staten Island for more than five decades."
Retired Richmond County Surrogate Charles D'Arrigo and his wife, Norma, were close friends of the Sullivans.
Surrogate Robert J. Gigante said the Island has "lost a favorite son."
Alice Diamond, wife of the late Advance publisher Richard E. Diamond, remembered Justice Sullivan as an "eloquent speaker" adding that "my husband, Dick, thought Tom Sullivan a remarkable man and loved to hear him talk about the political history of Staten Island."
Robert Mulhall, president of the Richmond County Bar Association, called Justice Sullivan "the pinnacle of the legal community on Staten Island. He was a terrific D.A., a terrific trial judge, and a terrific Appellate judge."
Executive assistant district attorney Tim Koller was appointed by Justice Sullivan more than 31 years ago, and is one of his two remaining staffers still serving in the district attorney's office. "Having had the good fortune of serving under Tom Sullivan when he was district attorney, I saw firsthand his quick Irish wit, his love of the law and his sense of fundamental fairness. He was a true gentleman who will be sorely missed," Koller said.
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