Election 2022: 10 candidates on the ballot for 6 state Supreme Court judgeships


ELECTION 2022 – In both the Third and Fourth judicial districts, multiple candidates are running for seats on the state Supreme Court this year, seeking to become the judges who will hear, try and decide the most complex legal disputes.

In the Third District, which includes Schenectady, Saratoga, Fulton and Montgomery counties, there are six candidates seeking three available seats, while in the Fourth District, which includes Albany, Rensselaer and Schoharie counties, there are four candidates running for three seats.

Fourth District

Both major political parties are fielding candidates for each seat. The candidates include current Supreme Court Judge Robert J. Muller of Warren County seeking re-election, while running for the first time are Schenectady County Surrogate Court Judge Vincent W. Versaci, Schenectady City Court Judge Teneka Frost, Essex County-based attorney Allison M. McGahay, Saratoga County Surrogate Court Judge Richard A. Kupferman and Saratoga Springs attorney Christopher Obstarczyk.

Because they are running for judgeships the candidates are prohibited from attacking opponents or going into detail about their views on issues that might come before them, but can highlight some of their interests.

Here are snapshots of their backgrounds:

› Robert Muller, endorsed by the Democratic and Conservative parties, has been acting state Supreme Court judge since 2003. He was previously a Schenectady City Court judge and practiced law in Schenectady.

› Teneka Frost, the other Democrat-endorsed candidate in the race, is the first African-American to serve as Schenectady City Court judge. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy appointed her in 2018. Frost’s experience includes working for the state Department of State in positions including chief administrative law judge and director of the Office of Administrative Hearings. She also serves as co-chair of the Equal Justice in the Courts initiative in the Fourth Judicial District. In 2021, she established a court-monitored mentoring program to steer young offenders away from crime.

› Richard Kupferman has been the Saratoga County Surrogate Court judge and also served as an acting judge in other courts since 2012. Prior to that, the Albany Law School graduate was in private practice in Ballston Spa and served as an assistant county attorney for Saratoga County he was elected Schenectady City Court judge in 2003.

› Vincent W. Versaci is acting State Supreme Court justice and Surrogate Court judge for Schenectady County. He was appointed to Surrogate Court in 2010 and elected the following year. He started his judicial career when

› Allison McGahay is the third Republican in the race. She also has a Conservative endorsement. She has her own law practice in Essex County and is currently the town attorney for the town of Wilmington. McGahay is a former Essex County assistant district attorney and previously was a special counsel to the New York State Board of Elections.

› Christopher Obstarczyk is currently in private practice with Levy and Obstarczyk, and practiced with other law firms earlier in his career. He is a graduate of the Union University law school and was previously Saratoga Springs Republican Committee chairman.

Election 2022: The time has come for voters to have their say – All up to you

Third District

There are three Democrats and one Republican running for three seats. None are currently Supreme Court judges. The candidates are Cohoes City Court Judge Thomas Marcelle, Sullivan County District Attorney Meagan Galligan, attorney Heidi Thais Cochran of Columbia County and attorney Sharon Graff of Ulster County.

› Thomas Marcelle, endorsed by the Republicans, is the only candidate in that race with judicial experience — he has been Cohoes City Court judge since 2016. The Cornell Law School graduate was previously the Albany County attorney and chief counsel to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

The other three candidates have Democratic endorsements. from 1988 through 2011.

› Meagan Galligan, a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, has been a prosecutor in Sullivan County since 2009. She became acting district attorney in 2020 and later that year was elected to the position, becoming the first woman to serve as Sullivan County district attorney.

› Heidi Thais Cochran, who notes she is a former schoolteacher, has been a practicing trial attorney in Columbia County for the past 16 years, working on civil litigation, family law and criminal defense. She noted that she has particularly advocated for women who are victims of physical or sexual violence.

› Shron Graff is currently the principal court attorney to state Supreme Court Justice Julian D. Schreibman, which means she conducts in-depth legal research and drafts opinions for the judge. She has previously headed her own law firm in Kingston, and earlier in her career practiced product liability and personal injury law in Manhattan.

Election 2022: The time has come for voters to have their say – All up to you

In New York, Supreme Court justice is the title for the trial-level judges who hear major civil litigation as well as sometimes criminal cases. In general, there is at least one assigned to each county, though they can be assigned to any county within the judicial district. Judges are elected to 14-year terms. The judges elected will take office Jan. 1.

The Fourth Judicial District covers 11 counties, stretching from the Capital Region to the Canadian border. Once elected, judges can be assigned to any of those counties. The Third Judicial District encompasses Albany, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Columbia, Greene, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

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