Two veteran local judges saw their official portraits unveiled Wednesday.
The portraits are of state Supreme Court justices Vincent J. Reilly Jr. and Barry Kramer.
Both have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, but continue on the bench with extensions. The extensions mean the portraits will hang at the Schenectady County Courthouse, in Courtroom 1, even as the two continue on the bench. They can get two-year extensions until the age of 76.
The portraits were unveiled Wednesday morning in a ceremony sponsored by the Schenectady County Bar Association and attended by other sitting judges, attorneys and family and friends of Kramer and Reilly. The two judges gave short speeches, highlighting their careers and their beginnings. At the conclusion of each, the portraits were unveiled.
Reilly, who first became a county-level judge in 1985, recalled a story from 1968, when he was a “fresh face.” He ended up showing up late for a morning calender, getting a tongue-lashing from the judge for it.
Reilly joked that he thought his law career was over, that he’d have to look into medical school, but it was far from over. He became a Niskayuna Town Court judge in 1977, then a Schenectady County Family Court judge in 1985 and a state Supreme Court justice in 2000.
Reilly also talked about the importance of the courts in preserving “the very fabric of our society.”
“It’s only through protection of the law of the land that freedom is preserved,” he said.
Kramer also talked about his start in law. Kramer, a former local basketball star, later played in the NBA. When that brief career was over, though, he turned to the law.
He called that turn “the best thing I ever did, the best thing.”
The greatest thing, though, was when he was appointed, and then elected, as a judge, he said. Kramer became a surrogate court judge in 1993 and was re-elected in 2004. In 2010, he became a state Supreme Court justice.
“I was literally in heaven,” he said of the day he became a judge. “I was the happiest man on the face of the earth, because I never dreamed I would ever become a judge. It was an incredible day for me.”