Tags Posts tagged with "Judge"

Judge

have a few questions for the newly minted Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh.

What did you learn through this process?

You will be judging legal cases from people from all walks of life, working together with the eight other Supreme Court justices to decide on cases that will determine the law of the land for everyone.

What’s it like to be the accused? In some cases, the accused will be as angry and defensive and frustrated as you were. How will you understand the legal issues of their cases? How will you consider the legal questions and how will you consider the implications for them?

Will you understand the fury some people might feel through the legal process? Will you appreciate their position, even as you use the law to guide your decision-making process?

Maybe not because you, after all, didn’t go through a trial. Well, you certainly didn’t go through a judicial trial. You endured an ordeal, you experienced a political maelstrom and you became a divisive figure, suffering through accusations you found abhorrent.

People prejudged you because of the claims women made about your behavior from years ago.

Will you be able to appreciate the implications of your decisions on the people awaiting them?

Will a process that you found impossibly difficult make you better at your job? Will you grow from this experience, the way people who take an impossible organic chemistry class where they have to memorize and learn structures, concepts and stoichiometry become better students?

People rarely ask for the suffering and hardship that comes during any process. It’s what makes movies about road trips so compelling: People have to overcome or surmount obstacles along the way to get closer to the destination — or the truth.

Will you learn about yourself and gain a new perspective on the country and all of its citizens now that you’ve made that trip?

In many jobs, we ask people to go beyond what might be their natural responses to people or circumstances. Firefighters race toward a burning building when they may want to run toward safety. The same holds true with the police, who enter unknown and potentially dangerous circumstances.

Doctors can’t look at a wound and screech, “Yuck, that’s so disgusting, get that away from me.”

In many jobs, we need to overcome our visceral responses, doing what’s asked and ignoring other parts of our experience because that’s what’s required.

In your case, the country asks you to make the best judgment for everyone, even the Democrats or those who might accuse others of sexual assault.

Will you be able to step out of a reflexive response that’s all too human to make decisions that affect the lives of everyone?

Taking a step away from Judge Kavanaugh, what have we all learned? We know the country is divided and we know people are prepared to find evidence to support whatever conclusions they have already drawn.

Can we become more judicial instead of prejudicial? Can we act the way we all hope Judge Kavanaugh will behave?

The downside of the instantaneous world in which we live is that we expect instant results. We want food as soon as we order it and we want to speak with everyone and anyone whenever we feel the urge, even if we’re driving, standing in a line or watching a movie.

Maybe what we’ll learn is that the judicial process requires time, effort and consideration. Perhaps we can be thankful that the fact-finding, questions and appeals process that accompanies trials will bring out enough information to render a verdict consistent with the law — not a political or any other personal belief.

Mike Yacubich is hoping to run for the New York State Assembly, but is tied up fighting challenges to his petition. Photo from Yacubich's campaign website

When a Shoreham resident decided to bestow his first name upon his son 25 years ago, no one could have predicted the obstacle it would create for him running for office decades later.

Though an appeal could still be heard this week, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled in favor of Republican Mike Yacubich, chief of the Rocky Point Fire Department, who wants to represent New York’s 2nd Assembly District, in a decision levied Aug. 24.

The would-be candidate garnered enough signatures on his petition to be placed on the ballot for the Sept. 13 primary, but was challenged in court by three citizen objectors in the district. The objectors argued that since two Mike Yacubichs — father and son — have lived and are registered to vote at the same address, those who signed the petition approving the elder Yacubich as a political candidate couldn’t have distinguished between he and his son, who also goes by Mike. The argument was heard by the Republican and Democratic commissioners of the Suffolk County Board of Elections —Nick LaLota and Anita Katz, respectively — who brought the case to the Suffolk County Supreme Court. The lower court initially ruled against Yacubich, who then appealed and won to restore his name to the ballot.

“The board exceeded its authority when it invalidated the designating petition on the ground that it could not identify which registered voter was the candidate,” reads the unanimous decision reached by four appeals court judges. “There was no proof that Yacubich intended to confuse voters, or that any voters were confused as to his identity.”

Yacubich hopes to challenge incumbent Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) in the primary for the right to represent the Republican party on the general election ballot in November, barring an appeal to the Aug. 24 ruling being filed by the objectors this week.

“It’s satisfying to try to be moving forward here, but apparently it’s not meant to be until we can finalize this process,” Yacubich said. “It does make it a little bit difficult, but we’re committed to the program.”

The political hopeful said he couldn’t believe there would be any confusion as to who was running given people in the community know him as “Mike” or “Chief Mike” at the fire department in addition to his past service on the Shoreham-Wading River school district board of education. He added that his son hasn’t lived with him for more than two years.

“I think our argument has been and still is there is no confusion as to who the candidate would be,” he said. “Certainly, my son is not a chief in the fire department, an accountant, has never been a member of the school board.”

A senior official at the BOE, who asked not to be named as the issue continues to be played out in court cases, said the candidate complicated the matter by going with a shortened version of his first name — Mike instead of Michael — as well as opting not to include a middle initial on his petitions, which would have served as a delineator between the father and son.

“If you are attempting to be a state Assembly member, someone responsible for passing laws, details matter,” the official said, adding that the mix up shows a lack of experience on the part of the candidate and his campaign team.

Yacubich rejected the notion the mix up had to do with a lack of experience.

“How could they expect anybody from the public to get through the process if these are the hoops they have to jump through to get on the ballot,” he said. “To be thrown off the ballot for a technicality such as this [is] just unreasonable.”

Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass

By Elana Glowatz

Justice will be served during the Port Jefferson government election later this month, with three people vying to be a village judge.

Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass
Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass

There are three years remaining on the term of former Village Justice Peter Graham, a judge of more than 30 years who died in office late last year, just months after being re-elected to his position on the bench. Bill Glass, the man appointed to fill in until the next election, is running to be returned to the seat and faces challenges from residents Tara Higgins and Scott Zamek.

Glass, 61, decided to run “because I really enjoy the job and I’d like to keep doing it.”

The lifelong resident, who also has volunteered with the Port Jefferson Fire Department for more than four decades, has a private law practice in the village through which he represents fire and emergency medical service groups throughout Suffolk County.

He graduated from Fordham Law School and once filled the roles of village prosecutor, village attorney and village trustee. He was also previously an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where he worked under village Trustee Larry LaPointe in the Rackets Bureau.

Glass tried to win a village justice seat in 2011, but voters re-elected Graham.

People should vote for the married father of three this time because “I feel like I know the village inside and out,” he said. He has vast experience in criminal procedure law, which is a “key ingredient” in the village court. “I think that I’m … uniquely qualified for the position.”

Tara Higgins is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate
Tara Higgins is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate

Higgins grew up in East Setauket and moved to Port Jefferson 18 years ago, when she got married. The 50-year-old, who graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law, said she spent time in defense litigation for an insurance company before moving on to Islandia-based Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP. She does municipal defense work and civil defense litigation for that firm.

“I just thought that it was a natural progression in my career,” she said about running for village justice. “I’ve tried cases, I’ve written appellate briefs and I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Voters should choose her because she is experienced in the courtroom, she said.

“I’ve spent my entire career in the courthouse,” Higgins said. “There are plenty of lawyers who never see the inside of a courtroom.”

The married mother of two high school kids, whose father named the Tara Inn pub in uptown Port Jefferson after her, said, “I’m hardworking, honest, fair and think I’ve got a good temperament for the position.”

Zamek grew up in the village, graduating from the local high school, and returned with his wife to raise his three daughters in Port Jefferson.

Scott Zamek is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate
Scott Zamek is running for village justice. Photo from the candidate

The 55-year-old graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and has a private practice in Hauppauge where he focuses on transactional real estate. He explained that he represents landlords and developers with buying, selling and borrowing transactions.

He decided to run for justice because he’s always wanted to be a judge and has always been involved with the community, including working summer jobs for the highway department, volunteering with youth sports, helping out with the Port Jefferson arts council and, for the last two decades, serving with the Royal Educational Foundation.

“I think it’s time for me to step up a little bit,” Zamek said. He wants to give back to the village because “I feel that’s something everybody should do. … I want to do what I can to make it as good of a place as possible.”

Voting is at the Port Jefferson Village Center on June 21, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Also on the ballot will be two trustee seats, for which the incumbents are running unopposed for re-election. Bruce Miller is running for his second term on the board and Bruce D’Abramo is running for his fourth.

by -
0 802
Martha Luft photo by Giselle Barkley

Martha Luft has served as a judge in Suffolk County Family Court for the past decade, and her experience and compassion while serving are why she deserves another term.

She is no stranger to serving in emotional courtrooms and meeting face-to-face with some of the most vulnerable members of our society. She comes to the job with humility, and the passion she shows while discussing different aspects of her work is impressive.

Some of the driving qualities she said keep her going include patience, communication and an ability to deliver tough love for those who need it most while still operating with compassion and understanding. She said she often calls on her experience as a mother of three and a grandmother of as many to guide her when working to balance her heart with her mind in her judgeship.

In her re-election bid, she faces off against Marlene Budd, George Harkin Jr. and Matthew Hughes. But of the four candidates seeking the two judgeships up for election this year, Luft was the only one rated highly qualified for the position, according to an Independent Judicial Election Qualifications Commissions report.

Luft is an exceptional candidate with a track record that supports our conviction.

She told us she loves family court. She said she thinks she found her calling, and so do we. Re-elect Martha Luft for Suffolk County Family Court judge.

Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass

Bill Glass has big robes to fill.

The local lawyer was appointed Port Jefferson village justice on Monday afternoon to hold the seat of Peter Graham, a judge who served more than 30 years on the village bench before he died last week.

Glass, a 60-year-old former village prosecutor, attorney and trustee who has lived in Port Jefferson his entire life, was previously an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where he worked under village Trustee Larry LaPointe in the Rackets Bureau.

“He’s a person of the highest character and I think he’ll do this village proud,” LaPointe said at the village board of trustees meeting Monday.

A graduate of Fordham Law School and a longtime fire department volunteer, Glass currently runs his own practice out of Port Jefferson, representing fire and emergency medical service groups throughout Suffolk County.

“I’ve never been behind the bench so this should be interesting,” he told the board at the meeting.

Glass signed his oath of office the same day he was appointed, and will wield the gavel until at least June, when there will be a village election to fill the justice seat for the three years remaining on Graham’s term.

Graham had been most recently re-elected to a four-year term this past June.

The coming election is one in which Glass plans to run, he said in a phone interview Tuesday. He added that he brings “a lifelong commitment to living in this village to the job.”

The new justice previously tried to win Graham’s seat in a 2011 election, but voters overwhelmingly supported the incumbent.

“It’s my home, it’s my community and I like to see things done right here,” Glass said about his interest in serving as a justice, adding he hopes he can “begin to live up to the reputation that [Graham] left behind.”

Graham was known for his vibrant personality, particularly his sense of humor. His life was full of color, between being born on Independence Day, abandoning the seminary after four years of study in favor of practicing law, and his service in the U.S. Army. After he died last week, those who knew him called him irreplaceable.

“I’m certainly not in a very real sense replacing Pete, because you can’t really replace Pete,” Glass said at the board meeting. “What a huge character and a valued part of the village. But I’m certainly going to do my best to do so.”

According to the new justice, he is concerned about villagers’ quality of life, which is why he wants to tackle issues from the bench.

As she appointed him to the bench on Monday afternoon, Mayor Margot Garant said, “I don’t know another attorney and resident of the village who is more up to the task.”

Justice Peter Graham has served Port Jefferson for more than 30 years. Photo by Talia Amorosano

After more than 30 years, Justice Peter Graham left his mark on Port Jefferson.

The village judge, who died on Tuesday afternoon, will be remembered for his personality and for his service to the court — but his path to that position was a little out of order.

Born on July 4, 1930, to Pedro and Helen Graham, the Brooklyn-born Peter Graham didn’t always know he would study law. He entered seminary at age 14 and stayed for four years before he realized that it wasn’t for him. Known for his sense of humor, the justice freely described his decision as being guided by his aversion to “the two Cs”: chastity and celibacy.

He hung up his cassock and went to college, studying biology and chemistry before heading to law school.

In an interview in July, Graham said he took a detour before reaching the courtroom, serving in the U.S. Army.

“When I finished law school, I felt that I owed my country two years of my life,” Graham said.

It was in the service that he got his first hands-on law experience, as he was appointed the district attorney of his battalion and was tasked with prosecuting murder, assault and rape cases.

Graham rose from those humble beginnings to eventually become a village justice in 1983. He was most recently re-elected in June.

“All I do is try to be fair to the people,” he said earlier this year. He described his experience living in Port Jefferson and serving as a village justice as “a pleasure.”

Mayor Margot Garant, who knew Graham since she was a child, called him a “dear friend.”

“It’d be really fair to say that [he] was just an integral part of everyone’s life here in the village,” she said.

The mayor referred to the justice’s personality as “friendly, personable, jovial.”

“He will be absolutely irreplaceable,” Garant said. “There’s not going to be one person … that will ever be able to step into his shoes.”

Graham had the respect of both residents and the people who worked with him.

“He’s awesome. I’ve actually worked for eight judges and he is one of my top,” Village Court Clerk Christine Wood said in an interview in July. “He’s the most caring gentleman, and I don’t say that about many people. He’s got a heart of gold.”

Graham is survived by his loving Mary Ellen Mulligan; children Kim (Jim) Sloane and Patrick Mulligan; beloved grandchildren Jimmy, Patrick, Sean and Shannon; dear sister Maureen and brother Robert (Millie) Graham; along with Phyllis Graham and children Peter, Paul, Mary Jane and Christopher, and Mary Jane’s daughter Nina. He is also survived by other grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

“He was a magnificent grandfather,” Mulligan said on Wednesday. “You couldn’t have a better human being, a better man.”

A memorial celebration will be held at the Bryant Funeral Home in East Setauket on Friday, from 6 to 10 p.m. A funeral Mass will take place the next morning, at Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson at 9 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Stony Brook Cancer Center and to the loving nurses and aides of 19 North.

Man on village bench has worn many hats over the years

Justice Peter Graham has served Port Jefferson for more than 30 years. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

When he entered a seminary at age 14, Port Jefferson Village Justice Peter Graham had no idea he would eventually study law, let alone hold a gavel or ever be referred to as “your honor.”

But after four years of training to become a priest, instead of the voice of God it was the voice of singer Hoagy Carmichael through his bedroom window, delivering a message about “a gal who’s mighty sweet, with big blue eyes and tiny feet,” that resonated with him. It was then that Graham decided to abandon this path in favor of one that did not necessarily encompass what he referred to as “the two Cs”: chastity and celibacy.
He traded in his cassock for textbooks, studying biology and chemistry in college and completing law school.

But instead of heading straight for the courtroom, Graham enlisted in the U.S. Army.

“When I finished law school, I felt that I owed my country two years of my life,” Graham said.

He enlisted as a private and refused to receive a commission.

“For 16 weeks they gave me infantry basic training,” he said. “I ran all day. … On the last day [of basic training], I walked 26 miles alone. I was frustrated.”

Just when things seemed low, an unexpected opportunity arrived in the form of a long plane ride to Germany and a short conversation.

“You went to law school, right?” asked a colonel, according to Graham. Before he knew it, he was declared the district attorney of his battalion. Riding on the reassuring words of the colonel — “Don’t make a mistake” — Graham worked on murder, assault and rape cases and gained real experience in the field he had previously only studied.

A particularly interesting case, the justice said, involved a woman who Graham believes murdered her husband, an Army major. Graham had jurisdiction over the case and tried to get her convicted. However, the Supreme Court eventually ruled it could not convict because the defendant was not enlisted. To this day, Graham does not know what became of her.

Despite that situation, “I learned so much [about law] from being in the Army.”

All these years later, and after spending more than 25 years on Port Jefferson Village’s bench, Graham still practices law and specializes in criminal and civil law. As a village justice, a role to which he was recently re-elected for another term of service, he remains diligent about informing himself of the latest policies and practices.

He also keeps an eye on changes in his community — he emphasized the importance of maintaining an awareness of what’s going on in the area and said doing his job helps to keep him alert to the needs of the people. But he stayed away from patting himself on the back.

“All I do is try to be fair to the people,” he said. “I want to make sure they understand what the charge is and what their alternative is.”

Graham’s ability to make people feel comfortable in the courtroom may have something to do with the friendly treatment he gets in out-of-work environments. He said what is most rewarding about being a village justice is “the respect you see on the street. … I’ve been around so long that people are saying hello to me and I don’t even know who they are.”

In addition to praising his community, Graham spoke highly of his colleagues.

About fellow Justice Jack Riley, Graham said he is on the same page about how to handle people in the courtroom. Of Village Court Clerk Christine Wood, with whom he has worked for almost 11 years, he said,

“She does phenomenal work. … I don’t think she’s ever made a mistake.”

Wood was just as complimentary in return.

“He’s awesome. I’ve actually worked for eight judges and he is one of my top,” she said. “He’s the most caring gentleman, and I don’t say that about many people. He’s got a heart of gold.”

Wood said Graham “goes above and beyond” for his village justice role.

When Graham isn’t working, he enjoys being active around Port Jefferson. Although he won’t play golf “because golf is for old men,” he defined himself as a once-avid tennis player.

“They used to call me the deli man because my shots were always slices.”

He plans to start playing more again in the future, when his elbow feels better.

In addition to the “beautiful tennis courts,” Graham appreciates Port Jefferson’s proximity to the water and its abundance of outdoor activities.

He described his experience living in Port Jefferson and serving as a village justice as “a pleasure.”

“I never ask for an increase [in pay]. Whatever it is, it is, and it’s great.”

Social

9,191FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,123FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe