Saratoga County

State Supreme Court judge candidates vying for 3 seats

The state Supreme Court race in the district that includes much of the area Schenectady County and n

The state Supreme Court race in the district that includes much of the area Schenectady County and northward has four candidates facing off for three seats on the bench.

John A. Lahtinen

Age: 65

Home: Plattsburgh, Clinton County

Occupation: Justice on the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court, Third Department

Education: Law degree from Albany Law School; bachelor’s degree from Colgate University

Family: Married to Eleanor, three children

Party: Republican, Conservative

Robert J. Chauvin

Age: 61

Home: Saratoga Springs

Occupation: Attorney in private practice, former assistant district attorney

Education: Law degree from Albany Law School

Family: Married, two children

Party: Republican, Conservative

Ann C. Crowell

Age: 54

Home: Gansevoort, Saratoga County

Occupation: Principal Law Clerk to Justice Stephen A. Ferradino

Education: Law degree from Albany Law School, undergraduate from Mount Holyoke College

Family: Married, stepdaughter

Party: Republican, Conservative

John M. Silvestri

Age: 58

Home: Chestertown, Warren County

Occupation: Attorney

Education: Pace University School of Law

Family: Recently widowed, three children

Party: Democrat

The race has one incumbent, with Justice John A. Lahtinen seeking a second term.

Also seeking seats are John M. Silvestri, an attorney from Chestertown; Robert Chauvin, an attorney from Saratoga Springs; and Ann Crowell, a law clerk for one of the justices whose seat is up.

In addition to Lahtinen’s seat, up for election are the seats of retired Justice Frank B. Williams and Justice Stephen A. Ferradino, who is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Lahtinen, Chauvin and Crowell are running on the Republican and Conservative lines. Silvestri is the lone Democrat in the race.

Each is hoping to get one of the three 14-year terms on the court. State Supreme Court justices can hear a variety of cases, including civil. Some of the justices are also appointed to the court’s Appellate Division, hearing appeals from Supreme Court and county criminal courts.

They are running in the 4th Judicial District, which covers 11 counties, including Schenectady, Saratoga, Montgomery and Fulton, north to the Canadian border, an area that includes an estimated 840,000 people.

Supreme Court judges in the state are paid $136,700, an amount frozen for years in a legislative dispute. A state commission in August directed that the positions would see a salary increase to $174,000 in increments over three years, beginning in 2012.


Lahtinen, of Plattsburgh, is finishing his first term. He was appointed to the court in June 1997 and was elected later that year to a full term. Prior to that, he served 27 years in private law practice.

In 2000, Gov. George Pataki appointed Lahtinen to the Appellate Division, on which he has served since. If re-elected, Lahtinen would then apply for reappointment to the Appellate Division.

Lahtinen cited his experience on the bench in seeking re-election. “I enjoy what I’m doing, and I think I have something to contribute,” he said.

Also if elected, Lahtinen would not be able to serve a full second term. Justices are limited to the age of 70, and then can apply for up to three extensions of two years each. With those, Lahtinen would be able to serve 11 of the 14 years.


Chauvin is seeking the bench, having been in private practice for 36 years and served as a prosecutor for 30. He’s also served as town attorney in Halfmoon for 25 years.

Chauvin said he wants to use his experience in private practice and as a prosecutor.

“I think I have the experience and temperament to do it,” Chauvin said. “It’s time to give something back.”

“I’m used to dealing with a number of people and discerning what the facts are,” Chauvin added later, “and I certainly know what the law is.”

At 61, he would be able to serve about nine years of his term before seeking the extensions. With the extensions, he would be able to serve his full term.


Crowell is the principal law clerk for Justice Ferradino, whose seat is one of the three up for election.

Crowell has served eight years with Ferradino. Previously, she served as a law clerk in the Schenectady County Public Defender’s Office and in the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office. She’s also spent time as a trial attorney.

Crowell also served in the business world for a decade before entering law school. Her experience, she said, would be beneficial as a justice. She also highlighted her mediation training, something she said can save time and money.

“I think it’s a place I can serve, and serve well,” Crowell said.

Crowell would be the first female justice in the Fourth Judicial District, something she said she would be proud of. At age 54, Crowell would be able to serve the full 14 years, without extensions.


Silvestri is the only Democrat running.

He is in private practice in Warren County and serves as the town attorney in the Town of North Hudson. He was also an assistant district attorney in the 1980s.

Silvestri highlighted his experience, saying he believes he has the negotiation skills to allow him to listen to both sides of a case and work toward a settlement, something that he said will save tax dollars.

“I will work tirelessly to learn about the cases in front of me and to encourage settlements,” he said.

At the age of 58, Silvestri would be able to serve a full term with the help of an extension.

Categories: Schenectady County

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