By Robert J. McCarthy
Long before Mark J. Grisanti won a stunning upset election for the State Senate, he practiced as a defense lawyer.
Now, after several years of combining legal and political careers, he is being honored by his attorney peers with the 2013 Liberty Bell Award, the highest award bestowed at the Annual Law Day Luncheon of the Bar Association of Erie County.
According to Bar Association President Kathleen Sweet, Grisanti has "not shied away from taking positions in the face of criticism," adding he was selected because of his "strength of conviction and independent deliberation on matters important to our region."
Perhaps Grisanti is best known for his 2011 vote that helped legalize same sex marriage in New York and the criticism of the vote that followed.
The award, established in 1964, recognizes community service that strengthens "the American system of freedom under the law and acknowledges outstanding contributions to the effective functioning of our institutions of government."
The award will be presented Tuesday at a luncheon at Statler City. The senator's father, Richard Grisanti -- who has practiced law for more than 50 years -- will accept the award on behalf of his son, who will be in session in Albany.