PARAMUS, NJ–Peter Kougasian, Esq., former Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Board Member and Vice President and a longtime active member of the Armenian Evangelical Church in New York City, was honored on September 27 by the New York City District Attorney’s (DA) Office at a celebration of his 40 years of service as an Assistant District Attorney and as “an extraordinary human being.”
Kougasian was elected a member of the AMAA Board in 1996, serving during that time as Vice President and as Chairman of the Armenia Committee. He also served as Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York for many years. He is a long-time member of the New York City (NYC) Bar Association serving as former Vice President, former chair of the Executive Committee and former chair of the NYC Bar Association delegation to the House of Delegates of the New York State Bar.
“We congratulate our dear friend Peter on this very prestigious honor,” said Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO. “His service to the AMAA is founded on the same principles that he has come to be known for in his profession – loyalty, dedication, devotion, service and commitment.”
Peter’s former colleagues and many friends were present at the standing room only celebration to unveil a bronze plaque that will hang outside of the Manhattan DA Office Training Center, which has officially been named after him. The plaque reads:
“The Peter M. Kougasian Training Center – Dedicated to Peter M. Kougasian, Assistant District Attorney 1979-2018. Executive ADA and Counsel to the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Senior Trial Counsel, Bureau Chief, Director of Legal Training, Co-Founder Diversity Program, Conviction Integrity Committee, Ghostwriter Extraordinaire. In each position held during his 40 years as a prosecutor, Peter committed himself to justice, improving the institution that he revered, and serving the city he loved. He taught us the practice of law through his brilliance of words, his kindness of heart, inventive humor, and a touch of magic.”
The dedication ceremony, presided over by current DA of New York County Cyrus Vance, Jr. Esq., featured several notable speakers, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a friend and former colleague who, by video, praised Kougasian for his long career. Speakers also cited his friendship, mentoring, loyalty, wisdom, leadership, dedication, humor, generous heart, faith, pride in his Armenian heritage and his love of magic.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University and a Yale Law School graduate, Kougasian has been “a friend for all seasons, a forever friend, a formidable public lawyer by day and a magician by night,” according to Judge Robert Katzmann, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and a forty-year friend and former Yale classmate. “Peter found a love for magic in college and performed whenever and wherever he could, even once before fellow amateur magician Johnny Carson. He has been called the ‘Amazing Kougasian’ and ‘Uncle Peter’ performing at many clubs in New York as well as internationally. Peter is a person of profound faith and has been proud of his Armenian heritage. He makes all of us better and brings out the best in all of us. As we celebrate Peter’s life today, we also celebrate his wife Beth and son Alex who are at the center of his life.”
“Peter’s retirement is a loss for all of us,” said his former boss, DA Vance. “His gift to me was to share the magic of his gift of writing. I am forever grateful for your years of friendship, Peter. I love you. We all love you. I thank Peter for being in our lives; you are someone we’ve all looked up to. The plaque will now hang outside of the Training Room. In the days and years ahead, feel free to touch the plaque and get a touch of Peter’s magic.”
Bridget Brennan, Esq., Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, said, “Peter guided many colleagues with their careers and was a sounding board, trusted friend and advisor for us. His guidance has been invaluable, and it is fitting that this Training Room is named after Peter as he has trained and educated so many of us who are here today. You shaped our outlooks and our careers.”
“Peter, you are a man of integrity, honor and valor,” said Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, who was a classmate of Peter’s both at Princeton and Yale and worked with him under the late Robert Morgenthau, Esq. in the DA’s Office. “I hope that every young ADA who visits this Center will realize the very high bar you’ve raised for us in learning and mastering our skills as lawyers and as human beings. It is fitting to name the Training Center in your honor, Peter, as your words, heart, humor and magic have touched so many. Your epic struggle with ALS has been an example for all of us. You have told me that your faith has buoyed and sustained you. I know that is true, but I see much power in your indomitable spirit. The Training Center is lucky to have that spirit at its heart.”
In a touching moment, from his New York City hospital room where he has been treated for ALS since November 2018, Kougasian spoke on camera to his assembled friends with the assistance of an electronic device.
“I am truly humbled and touched by this honor,” said Kougasian. “You know that I am passionate about training because it is through training that we convey the value of our greatest assets. Your friendship sustains me, and I am thankful to everyone who has made this ceremony possible.”