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What you need to know for 10/16/2017

Former DA Hogan to sit as Schenectady trial judge

Former DA Hogan to sit as Schenectady trial judge

She served as prosecutor in Alexander West case
Former DA Hogan to sit as Schenectady trial judge
Then-Warren County District Attorney Kathleen Hogan gives her opening statement during Alexander West's trial.
Photographer: Shawn LaChapelle/Pool

SCHENECTADY — Former Warren County District Attorney Kathleen "Kate" Hogan is now a judge, and her first judicial assignment will be in Schenectady County.

Hogan, who was confirmed by the state Senate last Monday as a judge on the state Court of Claims, will be assigned as an acting state Supreme Court judge to hear criminal cases in Schenectady, said Vito Caruso, the Fourth Judicial District's administrative judge.

Hogan is expected to be assigned to Schenectady court for a full year, with chambers in the County Courthouse, and to serve as a second full-time criminal court judge for the county.

"Schenectady has the largest caseload in the district," Caruso said. "We are bringing visiting judges into Schenectady constantly."

Hogan was nominated recently by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a seat on the Court of Claims, which hears civil cases brought against the state. She was confirmed last Monday and resigned as district attorney that day. Judicial rules allow Court of Claims judges to be assigned as acting Supreme Court or criminal court judges, and such assignments are common.

Hogan had served as Warren County district attorney since 2003. She achieved notoriety recently as the prosecutor in the manslaughter case against Alexander West, the Lake George man convicted in May of recklessly driving the boat involved in a collision on Lake George last July that killed 8-year-old Charlotte McCue. West was accused of being drunk and under the influence of drugs that evening, after he and several friends had attended Log Bay Day, an annual daylong party in a remote bay on the lake. He was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

In 2013, Hogan was a member of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which Cuomo formed and then disbanded in March 2014 amid much controversy. The 25-member commission's preliminary report that December recommended public financing of elections as a way to reduce corruption, but Hogan was among seven dissenters who warned that public financing wasn't a panacea against corruption.

Hogan will start hearing criminal cases Monday. There are 140 cases pending in the county, and Hogan is expected to be assigned half of those — and half the caseload going forward.

"This will be great. She's certainly got the (criminal law) knowledge and will pick up the judicial aspects very quickly," Caruso said.

The assignment should also minimize any conflicts with cases she handled as district attorney, Caruso noted. Because of her previous role, she would be prevented from hearing the criminal cases currently pending in Warren County.

Caruso said the goal of having an additional judge is to bring the county into compliance with statewide judicial standards that say suspects should be brought to trial within six months of indictment.

In Warren County, First Assistant District Attorney Jason Carusone will serve as the acting district attorney until a special election or until Cuomo appoints a successor.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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