State Supreme Court Justice Henry J. Scudder, presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, on Tuesday will face a challenge from a downstate candidate in his bid for re-election.
Stephen J. Lynch of Suffolk County, a registered Independence Party candidate, will oppose Justice Scudder on the Democratic line. Even though Lynch does not live in the Seventh Judicial District, he can run for the seat because it is a statewide office.
Justice Scudder, a Republican, has held the seat since 1997.
Lynch, who serves as chairman of the Town of Southampton Independence Party, originally filed as a candidate for attorney general. He relinquished the Independence Party designation to Democratic attorney general candidate Eric T. Schneiderman and was given the nod by the Monroe County Democratic Committee for that party’s designation to run against Justice Scudder.
Lynch, who lives in the 10th Judicial District, will not be able to vote for himself. He said that if he is elected, he will move Upstate and devote himself to the job. The Seventh Judicial District includes Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates counties.
Justice Scudder has held the presiding justice post since his 2006 appointment by former Gov. George Pataki.
Also Tuesday, two candidates are seeking a family court vacancy: LaMarr J. Jackson, a partner at Harris Chesworth O’Brien Johnstone Welch & Leone LLP; and John B. Gallagher, a law clerk to acting state Supreme Court Justice and Family Court Judge Gail A. Donofrio.
Each candidate’s 500-word response to The Daily Record’s questionnaire are included in today’s edition. Profiles of the six candidates running for the Monroe County Court bench appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 28 edition.
In addition, there is a Rochester City Court seat up, for which incumbent Judge Teresa D. Johnson is running unopposed.
Polls will be open at 343 sites from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, according to state law. Monroe County Board of Elections Commissioner Peter M. Quinn said 428,736 voters are registered in Monroe County — 134,278 Republican, 168,733 Democrat, 17,409 Independence, 7,528 Conservative and 1,231 Working Families.
Voters whose polling sites have changed in the last year have been notified, but the simplest way to verify the proper poll is to visit www.monroecounty.gov/elections, which also includes information and a video explaining the new ImageCast Optical Scan Voting System. Election Day information also is available on the state Board of Elections website at www.elections.state.ny.us.
New York State Supreme Court
Henry J. Scudder, 65 (R, I, C)
Hometown: Campbell (Steuben County)
Current residence: Bath (Steuben County)
Education: Stetson University and University of Tennessee Law School
Professional experience: I currently serve as the presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. I was elected to the supreme court in 1996 and was appointed by Gov. Pataki to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department in 1999. Previously, I was elected for two terms as surrogate court judge for Steuben County, and as surrogate, I was assigned to sit in the supreme, county and family courts. I began my legal career in private practice in Bath and served as first assistant district attorney in Steuben County.
Why are you running? I am seeking re-election to the supreme court because I believe that my extensive experience makes me uniquely qualified to serve as a supreme court justice. It is my sincere desire to continue to serve the public in that capacity.
What qualities or experience will make you a good judge? I have 28 years of experience as a judge and have presided over thousands of civil and criminal cases. I render decisions only after a careful examination of the facts and a thorough understanding of the applicable law. I strive to treat all litigants and attorneys with dignity and respect, and I recognize the importance to the participants of each case that comes before me. I believe that I have earned the respect of my colleagues and of the attorneys who appear before me. I note that I have been given the highest rating by each of the bar associations who have rated candidates and by the Independent Judicial Evaluations Qualifications Commission.
Toughest case or decision: Miller v. Powers, 53 AD3d 1125 (Fourth Dept. 2008). This boundary dispute challenged the riparian rights to Cayuga Lake of the owner of a particular parcel. The case was complex and it called into question an 18-year-old decision of the Appellate Division regarding the same parcel in an appeal by the respective predecessors in interest of the parties.
Case or decision of which you are most proud: People v. Brockway (255 AD2d 988, lv denied 93 NY2d 967). I presided over the trial of three defendants charged with murder and robbery that was conducted over several weeks before two juries. Two juries were necessary because one codefendant had implicated another.
Stephen J. Lynch, 59, (D)
Hometown: East Williston (Nassau County)
Current residence: Speonk (Suffolk County)
Education: St. John’s University School of Law, J.D., 1978; bachelor’s degree, Fordham University, 1973.
Professional experience: Principal law clerk to Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William B. Rebolini, 2007 to present; principal law clerk to Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Lifson, 1995-2007; attorney, Marino Bernstein & LaMarca, 1991-95; partner, Robinson & Lynch, 1981-1991, practice emphasis in education, real estate, estates, personal injury and criminal defense; attorney, Colleran O’Hara Kennedy Lilly & Dunne, practice emphasis in civil litigation in state and federal courts, primarily labor law.
Why are you running? I’m running because I want to do the job that the supreme court justice does and deal in a direct person-to-person fashion in the cases before the court. I think I would be very good at it and a number of people with whom I come in frequent contact as a law clerk, working for a judge, recognize that I have an even temperament, a grasp of the law, an ability to cut through to the relevant facts and an ability to be fair in reaching decisions and helping the judge that I work for do so. These are the key components that make a good judge.
What qualities or experience will make you a good judge? I have been in practice for 32 years. I have extensive trial experience including trials and hearings before administrative agencies and boards including the Public Employment Relations Board in New York. After being in practice, I became a law clerk to a supreme court judge for several years with the Appellate Division, Second Department, doing research and writing. Handled a variety of different kinds of cases from land use to personal injury, medical malpractice to contract disputes and everything that falls within the category of civil claims including special proceedings. The combination of my practice experience and my in-court experience over a lengthy period of time, in which I have drafted literally thousands of decisions and orders and done the research attendant to those decisions, with the perspective of practicing law behind it, I think has given me a special kind of background for the position. Additionally, I think my reputation as a hard-working person with a good judicial temperament has been established during my years in the court, a portion of which was spent directly assisting and administering the matrimonial part of the court. I think the combination of having been a lawyer for over 30 years, raising three wonderful successful children and having nearly 60 years of life experience make for a good basis to say I’m ready for being a supreme court justice. I’ve been a journeyman for a long time.
Monroe County Family Court
La Marr J. Jackson, 64 (D, WF)
Current residence: Henrietta
Education: B.S. business administration, Central State University, Ohio; M.S. Education, SUNY Brockport; J.D. University at Buffalo School of Law
Professional experience: 1999-2005, solo practice in the areas of family, criminal and civil Law; 2005-2007, of counsel at Harris Chesworth & O’Brien Johnstone Welch & Leone LLP; 2007-present, partner at Harris Chesworth O’Brien Johnstone Welch & Leone LLP. My practice areas are family, criminal and civil law
Why are you running? I believe that family court is where children and families can and should be helped by the court and the community. Children need to be protected from harm and families sometimes need help in order to protect children. Children are the future of our community and I have spent more then a decade representing children and families throughout the Rochester community.
What qualities or experience will make you a good judge? I began my career as a school teacher in the Rochester City School District. Through that experience and training, I learned to understand children and their needs. I also experienced and learned how families and children often have issues where they need help and direction. I have spent nearly 12 years in family court as a trial attorney, representing children and families. I have also been appointed as the attorney for children by family court judges to represent what is in the best interest of the child. In addition, I am an experienced criminal attorney. Through my volunteer and community work with the United Way, Urban League of Rochester, the YWCA and School of the Arts, I understand the resources available in our community to help children and families. I would ask that you keep in mind that my experience as a parent, teacher and family law attorney, in addition to my community involvement, gives me the skills and experience that are needed in our family court. Our children need to be guided to be responsible and respectful, and families need direction and assistance to accomplish that goal. Children are the future of our community and the schools, courts and community agencies need to form a partnership and do all we can to assist them in becoming productive and responsible citizens.
John B. Gallagher Jr., 43 (R, I, C)
Current residence: Brighton
Education: University of Buffalo, B.A., May 1990; University of Dayton School of Law, J.D., May 1994
Professional experience: Law Clerk to Acting Supreme Court Justice Gail A Donofrio, Monroe County Family Court, January 1999 to present, responsible for researching statutory and case law, crafting and editing opinions, memos and briefs, as well as conducting pre-trial and settlement conferences on cases involving juvenile delinquents, persons in need of supervision, child abuse and neglect, and child custody and visitation issues. That included 2009 work with the Integrated Domestic Violence Court, responsible for researching and writing opinions for the court involving criminal charges, domestic violence, family law and matrimonial matters. In 2006, was responsible for researching and writing opinions, memos, briefs and orders in surrogate court, family court, county court and supreme court cases in the Seventh Judicial District, as well as conducting pre-trial and settlement conferences in all four participating courts.
Private practice March 1995 — December 1998, areas of practice included criminal matters, matrimonial matters and real estate transactions; successfully negotiated settlements in numerous cases.
Why are you running? I am running for Monroe County Family Court judge because of my desire to help the children of Monroe County. The children, and their families, that come before a family court judge are involved in the very worst of personal situations. It is my hope that I can help these families navigate through these difficult times.
What qualities or experience will make you a good judge? After being admitted to the bar, I spent four years in private practice where I concentrated on family court issues. Since 1999, I have been serving as the confidential law clerk to the Hon. Gail A. Donofrio in Monroe County Family Court. I believe my experience uniquely qualifies me to serve the citizens of Monroe County as a family court judge. As a father of four children, I understand what it is like to balance work and family; and as a family law clerk, I have seen the impact of family court decisions on local families and the community. In private practice, I represented husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers in divorce actions and child support cases — but also parents, children, grandparents and other relatives in all areas of family law. I also possess a deep understanding of how difficult it is to be a parent and the problems families can find themselves in. It is the combination of my legal experience and the experience I have gained as a son, brother, husband, and most importantly, father that makes me well qualified to become a family court judge.