Counselor's Corner: Integrity celebrated

By Fred Cavaiani

Last Friday evening I attended a retirement dinner for two Judges in Macomb County, James Biernat and Anthony Viviano. Judge Biernat is a friend of mine and a classmate many years ago. He and Judge Viviano have been good friends for many years. I was impressed and amazed at the number of people gathering for dinner at Penna’s in Sterling Heights.

Later I discovered that not every judge has this many people attending a dinner honoring their years of service on the bench. As I visited with many of the attorneys there that I have known over the years and then listened to the inspiring talks about each celebrant, I was mesmerized. These were two men of the highest integrity. The 500 people in the room were a kaleidoscope of who’s who in Macomb County. Besides the many attorneys who had been in both Biernats and Viviano’s courtroom over the years, there were also many judges, both local and federal attending this wonderful evening.

It was clearly evident that Judge Biernat and Judge Viviano were respected by their peers. There was little political benefit for someone to attend this party because both Judges were retiring. This was a celebration of integrity that had been radiating from these two guardians of the law for many years. Both are men that had treated their fellow attorneys, the defendants, plaintiffs and court personnel with compassion and dignity. Their ability to treat anyone who entered their courtroom with the utmost respect and integrity was the reason so many attended this evening. It was a celebration of integrity practiced and personally lived.

Judge Viviano and Judge Biernat are two men who are dedicated to their Faith, their wives, their families and their profession. This was clearly evident as the night progressed.

They personally lived what they practiced from the bench. As I sat in this glorious banquet hall I felt a tremendous gratitude to be able to be present with such a large group of men and women gathering to honor two men of integrity.

When a person lives an honest life it has a tremendous impact on the world. These two Judges were fine examples of how to live a life that makes the world a better place. Neither grew up with a silver spoon in their mouth. They worked hard, struggled, hurt, kept going, and raised wonderful families.

To speak with these two champions of justice is like speaking to someone who consistently shows an interest in who you are. You know you have been heard and respected. It was the constant theme in the many talks given that night honoring these two men.

All of us hunger for respect and understanding. It is not important that someone else agrees with us in everything. No judge can agree with every lawyer, defendant or plaintiff. But every judge can listen and respect everyone. It is the same with life. Everyone doesn’t have to agree with us. But it is wonderful when everyone we meet does this. When we do this to everyone who crosses our path our respect and ability to listen creates an atmosphere of compassion and trust. In this atmosphere people can be more open and honest, loving and caring.

Last Friday evening, Jan. 21, I was in a vast assembly of women and men who treated one another with compassion and respect. They came to honor two men who had treated them at some point in their own lives with that same compassion and respect. These two retiring judges had influenced all of us in this room to be better people. I think we all felt privileged to be there.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the DMC, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail is: and his website is


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