Letter to the Editor: Frank Revoir speaks on role of judge

Editor,

My name is Frank Revoir Jr. I am 46 years old and I reside in the City of Norwich with my wife, Edi, and my 4 children. I am a lifelong resident of Chenango County and I have been practicing law for over 20 years. Earlier this year, I announced my candidacy for the office of Chenango County Court Judge.

This year is very unique in Chenango County, as the voters will have the rare opportunity of choice – a choice to elect one candidate from amongst three, to serve as the next County Court Judge. With that said, I must point out that the job title of “County Court Judge” is somewhat misleading and often times causes confusion. This is because we are electing one Judge, who will preside over three very distinct & separate courts. Our Judge will preside over the Family Court, the County Court and the Surrogate’s Court. All three roles of the County Court Judge are vastly different, but each role is important.

In Family Court, people are in crisis fighting over two precious commodities – children and money. These battles bring out extreme emotions of anger, sadness, depression and mistrust. Walking into the courtroom can shake a person to the very core. In the Family Court setting, the Judge is completely surrounded by emotionally charged families and attorneys – each vehemently advocating their cause. I have spent my entire legal career practicing in Family Court, first as a Law Clerk to Judge Kevin Dowd and then as a litigator. As I am writing this letter, I continue to practice in the Family Court on a daily basis – not in the past, but right now. My representation includes matters of custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, paternity, family offense, abuse & neglect, juvenile delinquency, and I have regularly served as a Law Guardian for children. This extensive and ongoing experience in Family Court has provided me with an in depth knowledge of the laws governing Family Court litigation, but more importantly, it has made me empathetic to the emotions experienced by the litigants themselves – an absolute “must” for an effective Family Court Judge.

In County Court, we see those persons accused of committing serious offenses being prosecuted by the state. As citizens, we cherish our right to remain at liberty, unless and until such time as the government establishes our guilt. Equally important, we citizens value and cherish our right to live in safe communities, knowing that those who breach our right, will be appropriately punished and removed from the community, if necessary. I have spent my entire legal career engaged in the practice of criminal law on both sides of the table – prosecution and defense. I currently serve as a Prosecutor with the Chenango County Attorney’s Office – prosecuting juveniles who commit crimes. This is a job I have held since early 1999. A little known fact is that I have been serving as a Prosecutor with the County Attorney’s Office longer than my Republican opponent has been serving as a Prosecutor with the District Attorney’s Office. The basic rules of evidence in juvenile delinquency proceedings and adult criminal proceedings are relatively the same, with a few distinctions. First, juveniles are prosecuted in the Family Court, while adults are prosecuted in the County Court – same Judge, different courtrooms. Second, juveniles do not generally have the option of a trial by jury – adults do have that option. Third, juvenile proceedings are generally closed to the public. Adult criminal proceedings are open to the public and the media tends to inundate us with daily front page news coverage of every routine court appearance.



I also continue to serve as a defense attorney for adults accused of committing offenses. My representation includes County Court matters and local court matters. I have handled nearly 190 felony matters in the County Court and literally hundreds of misdemeanor matters in the various local courts. I pride myself on the fact that I have been able to successfully negotiate the resolution of the vast majority of my criminal cases to the satisfaction of my clients, without the necessity of countless jury trials. Of course, settlement of a criminal proceeding requires a thorough knowledge of the law; a calm demeanor and temperament; an understanding of fairness which is rooted in reality, not fear; and an overall good rapport with fellow colleagues. Furthermore, every case settled is a win-win for the Chenango County taxpayers who would otherwise foot the bill for the vast majority of our jury trials.

My Republican opponent, on the other hand, prides himself on the fact that he has “participated” in more jury trials than any other attorney in recent history and seems to believe that his record breaking participation in jury trials makes him the most qualified candidate to serve as our next County Court Judge. He further claims that his jury trial “participation” provides him with the ability to make all of the required “split second” evidentiary rulings necessary during jury trials. I beg to differ and so should you.

First, a Judge should never make split-second rulings during trial on any serious evidentiary issues. A Judge who makes split second decisions on serious evidentiary issues risks being overturned on appeal – a mistake that can result in multiple retrials, the waste of judicial resources, and further expense to the taxpayers. A competent Judge will typically request that the attorneys flush out any serious evidentiary issues before trial, so that there are no surprises. In the event a serious issue does arise, a competent Judge will excuse the jury and then conference the case with the attorneys and law clerk; hear arguments; conduct research if necessary; make a ruling; and then bring the jury back into the courtroom. The only split-second rulings that should be made by a Judge during trial pertain to the basic every day hearsay objections and standard evidentiary issues that any first year law student understands and comprehends. The last thing any defense attorney, prosecutor or defendant wants is a Judge that is reactive and quick to make decisions without thoughtful deliberation and reasoning. The argument that we need a Judge that can make “split-second” decisions in trial is misplaced and inaccurate.

My extensive criminal law experience has provided me with direct insight into the necessary and delicate balancing act which must be performed by the County Court Judge – the act of ensuring the defendant’s rights are adequately protected, while simultaneously ensuring the rights of the victim and the community are also addressed. My ongoing daily experience as both a Prosecutor and Defense Attorney, my knowledge of the law, my calm demeanor & temperament, and my ability to maintain a good rapport with my colleagues & clients, places me in the unique position of being able to perform such a delicate task.

In the Surrogate’s Court, we see families who are already struggling over the loss of a family member, attempting to work their way through the detailed, complicated and tedious procedures necessary for the processing of an estate. The Surrogate’s Court is not a place for the general practitioner, nor for the attorney who likes to dabble now and then in such matters. The attorney practicing in Surrogate’s Court, as well as the Judge presiding over such matters, must be well versed and articulate in the rules, regulations and laws pertaining to this Court, including the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA); the Estates, Powers and Trust Law (EPTL); Estate Tax Laws; Guardianship Laws; Adoption Laws; and the various laws of inheritance and succession. I have spent my entire legal career consulting and advising clients in the field of estate planning and all of the aspects of the Surrogate’s Court, including adoptions, guardianship proceedings and estate proceedings. My experience places me in the unique position of being able to preside over such matters in the Surrogate’s Court.

The voters of Chenango County have the power and responsibility to elect the right person for this extremely important job. I sincerely hope the voters will educate themselves about the expected duties of the job and the relevant qualifications of the individual candidates. We are electing one judge, for a ten year term, to preside over three courts. This election is not about the number of filings, cases, nor jury trials. This election is about selecting the candidate you trust to make potentially life altering decisions for you, your family and our community. Get the facts!

Frank Revoir Jr.

Norwich

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