I am writing this letter to comment on the upcoming September 13, 2012 primary election to choose the Republican candidate for Chenango County Court Judge. I was a practicing attorney in Chenango County from 1975 until my recent retirement in December of 2011. I first served as the Chenango County Social Services Attorney and then beginning in 1989, I was privileged to serve as the Chenango County Attorney – a position I held until my retirement. Over those thirty plus years, I have become intimately familiar with the workings of the various Chenango County Courts, the judges, the lawyers and the related personnel in the court system. It is through my service as County Attorney that I know the two candidates seeking the Republican nomination - Frank Revoir Jr and Joe McBride.
The recent series of letters to the editor and campaign material supporting Mr. McBride would have the voters believe that experience as the District Attorney should be the determining qualification for our County Court Judge. However, research into the sitting judges of the five counties surrounding Chenango including Delaware, Otsego, Madison, Cortland and Broome reveals that of the 13 judges who preside over Family Court, County Court and Surrogate’s Court, not a single one was a former District Attorney of their respective county. This fact alone should demonstrate to the voters that experience as a District Attorney is not the key to being an effective County Court Judge.
It is certainly true that Judge Ingraham and Judge Dowd, two of Chenango County’s prior County Court Judges, both served as elected District Attorneys before becoming County Court Judge. A critical difference never mentioned in McBride campaign material is that both Irad Ingraham and Kevin Dowd were “part-time” District Attorneys who simultaneously maintained an ongoing private law practice, appearing in Family Court, County Court and Surrogate’s Court, right up until the day they took office as Judge. In their judicial campaigns, neither Judge Ingraham nor Judge Dowd distinguished themselves as the right candidate for County Court Judge because of their service as District Attorney, but they distinguished themselves because of their unique abilities, talents and personalities. As an attorney, I find that Mr. McBride’s constant self comparison to Judge Ingraham and Dowd to be rather disingenuous, presumptuous and misplaced.
In this election Frank Revoir is the only candidate who has been practicing in, and is intimately familiar with, all three courts over which the County Court Judge presides. I cannot over emphasize this fact to the voting public. Frank commenced his legal career as a Law Clerk to all three Courts – a position he held for 5 years, serving Judge Dowd. No other candidate has served in such a capacity. For the next 16 years, Frank has maintained a private law practice and handles Family Court matters, Criminal Court matters and Surrogate’s Court matters. As I am writing this letter, Frank has cases pending in all three courts – felony cases pending in County Court; custody, visitation and child support cases pending in Family Court; and estate proceedings and adoptions pending in Surrogate’s Court. Frank’s legal background and experience is much more akin and worthy of a comparison to Judge Ingraham and Judge Dowd.
Contrary to the assertions being made in print these days, Frank has handled hundreds of criminal cases in the local courts and in the County Court system. Frank is a well seasoned criminal defense attorney with extensive relevant experience. Frank’s last felony trial in the County Court was in September 2009. At the conclusion of that trial, Frank’s client was acquitted of all charges and the Judge publicly chastised the District Attorney’s Office for bringing such a frivolous case (the Evening Sun covered the public chastising). Frank’s other two felony trials at the County Court level resulted in acquittals as well – making Frank’s felony acquittal record 100%.
A review of Mr. McBride’s background reveals that prior to 2004, like Frank, he was a criminal defense attorney and practiced family law. It also reveals that his Surrogate’s Court experience is limited to 1 estate proceeding in 1998 and no adoptions – that’s it. In my book, that constitutes no relevant Surrogate’s Court experience. Frank, on the other hand, has handled 105 estate proceedings and 74 adoptions (and has cases pending now). Striking difference.
In 2004 (8 years ago), Mr. McBride’s entire private practice came to an end when he became a full time District Attorney – a career change that effectively prevented him from doing anything but prosecute. Stop and think about that fact. Mr. McBride has not set foot in a Family Court room in over 8 years. This is of paramount importance as, despite the assertions being made, the overwhelming workload and time of our County County Court Judge is spent in Family Court.
A substantial part of Frank’s daily practice, on the other hand, is and has been in the Family Court representing private litigants in custody, visitation, support matters and at times as the Assistant County Attorney. It is the responsibility of the County Attorney’s Office to commence juvenile delinquency proceedings in Family Court when a person under the age of sixteen engages in conduct that, if committed by and adult, would constitute a crime. Any such charges must be based on the same provisions of the Penal Law that the District Attorney’s office uses in adult criminal proceedings. The role is that of a prosecutor and is recognized as such by New York State. As Chenango County Attorney, I was fortunate to have Frank Revoir as one of my assistants since 1996 (a job Frank still maintains). Frank’s primary duty is to commence and prosecute juvenile delinquency matters, assessing cases, making the decision as to what Penal Law provisions apply, what charges need to be presented and litigating those cases in their entirety. Frank performed those duties in an exemplary fashion and enjoys a fine working relationship with the judges, attorneys, law enforcement personnel and the various ancillary professionals who participate in the judicial system. Frank’s continuing experience in handling both private and county related matters will enable him to effectively and fairly decide cases in accord with the applicable law as they come before him in Family Court.
A particularly critical quality in a judge is what is referred to as “judicial temperament” — the ability to stay focused on and apply the legal principles of a particular case, maintain orderly procedure while treating all participants, including lawyers, litigants and witnesses in a respectful manner. Frank has all these qualities. I was privileged over the years to handle countless cases before our last several County Court Judges and have seen the importance of the judicial temperament with which all of our Judges dispensed justice to all litigants in accord with the law, including our current Judge Sullivan.
Knowing both candidates in this election and having for many years witnessed firsthand the operations of the judicial system in Chenango County, I am confident that Frank Revoir is the only candidate who has all of the necessary qualifications, experience, ability, personality and temperament to be an outstanding Chenango County Court Judge. These are some of the reasons I support Frank Revoir for Chenango County Court Judge. Each Republican voter has the rare opportunity to make their own personal choice on September 13th and I hope they choose Frank Revoir Jr.
Richard W. Breslin