I want to start by saying that having a choice in any election is a wonderful thing, especially when the position to be filled carries a ten year term. Installing the wrong person to a ten year term could lead to any number of ruinous decisions. Specifically speaking about Family and Criminal Court and the Court’s effect on the lives of the citizens before it, failed decisions are unacceptable.
I believe a candidate for County Judge should have a thorough knowledge of Criminal Law as well as Family Court procedures. The ideal candidate will have extensive experience in both courts including not only trials, but the many different hearings a case goes through on its way to trial. I also believe the ideal candidate will have high moral character, compassion, and strong family values. If you believe the candidates meet all these requirements, ask yourself which candidate has dedicated most of their adult life to serving the public in a profession where an attorney in private practice can earn far more than a counterpart in public service? The answer to this question can only be Joe McBride.
As a member of a law enforcement agency within Chenango County for more than 14 years, I feel I am able to give a qualified opinion on this election. I have seen Mr. McBride’s compassion and character first hand. I have been there when he has “stood up” for victims who were unable to do so for themselves. I know that Joe has strong family values and bases his decisions on what is right and moral, not what is popular or expedient. I know some feel now is not the time to be a “public servant,” but I believe that the County Judge is exactly that and having dedicated his life to serving the public makes Mr. McBride better qualified for the position, rather than making him “one of the good ol’ boys.”
I have also known the other candidates for County Judge. While I will not speak to their character, I will speak to their qualifications. One claims prior judicial experience. While this is technically correct, there is no real comparison between a Town Justice and the Judge who presides over County and Family Court. I mean no disrespect to any prior or current Town/Village Justice. I admire them all for serving in an underappreciated and underpaid position. However the position of Town/Village Justice does not require a law degree (or any degree for that matter), nor does it require any prior experience in the legal field. The other candidate, to my knowledge, has had one criminal trial in County Court in my career. In the hundreds of felony cases I have been involved in, requiring felony hearings, Grand Jury proceedings, hearings on evidence, statements, search warrants, and probable cause; I have been cross-examined by this candidate only one time.
The author of a Letter to the Editor published in The Evening Sun on August 16, 2012, who happens to be the law partner of one of the candidates, states Mr. McBride committed “prosecutorial misconduct” during the first Wlasiuk trial. Again, this technical legal definition may be correct, but if you would take the time to research the New York State Court of Appeals ruling, you will find out exactly what Mr. Vitanza is referring to. In short, Mr. McBride, during questioning of the defendant Mr. Wlasiuk, referred to him as a “liar.” While this apparently was a violation the defendant’s right to a fair trial, I submit that anyone whose story changed several times within a year in sworn statements may actually qualify as one. I also feel if Mr. Vitanza would like to qualify Mr. McBride’s passion for pursuing justice for crime victims “prosecutorial misconduct,” then he and the Court of Appeals are out of touch with the world that you and I live in. As a resident of Chenango County, I would rather have a retrial because of a passionate mistake than a convicted person set free because of an easy and expedient disposition.
We all have a right and a duty to vote. Please remember that on September 13, 2012 and exercise your right during the primary election. I know if you ask yourself what is really important for you, your community, and your county, you will make what I believe to be the right decision and vote for Mr. McBride for County Judge.
Richard M. Cobb