By Jefferson Geiger
Michael Pinto ’10 is dedicated to the Staten Island community. He grew up on the island, attended Wagner College like his mother and teaches as an adjunct faculty member at the institution. Now, he has been elected to serve locals as the newest member of the Staten Island Civil Court.
Pinto said it has been a surreal experience since winning the unopposed seat, and he still isn’t used to the idea of being referred to as “your honor.” However, he’s excited to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as a judge in New York. Pinto said he has met people who remember how well-respected his grandfather, Vincent Pizzuto was, for not only being a good judge, but for being a good person.
“That’s really my guiding force as I entered this new role, not just to make the right decisions, but always to remember to stay humble and just do good,” Pinto said. “My emphasis is making sure that each party feels like they've had their day in court, and then applying the law as necessary to find the right outcome in the case.”
Outside of law, the government and politics major is also a fan of theater — he originally wanted to practice entertainment law. Pinto has kept that passion alive as the founder and executive director of the Minty Organization for the Performing Arts, which bestows annual awards for high school performing arts programs.
“Wagner’s emphasis on civic engagement and giving back to the community led me not only to form a nonprofit when I was in law school, but it cemented this idea of public service and of doing better for the community and fellow Staten Islanders,” Pinto said.
Pinto received his law degree in 2013 from St. John’s University. Because he “truly never wanted to leave Wagner,” Pinto returned in 2014 to teach criminal justice and mock trial classes.
He credits former President Richard Guarasci, an internship at Staten Island Borough Hall with former Deputy Borough President Ed Burke ’80 and professors David Martin, Esq. and Todd Alan Price for preparing him for the world of law and government. During his time at Wagner, Pinto had a campus radio show for three years and served as student government president during his senior year.
“Wagner gave me the foundation I needed to become who I am in my career,” Pinto said.
Pinto’s 10-year term begins Jan. 1, 2024. Details are still to be determined, but he hopes to hold a ceremonial swearing-in event on campus in January.