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Albany Has A New City Court Judge

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

After a close primary decided on absentee ballots last week all but decided a new city court judge, Albany's mayor today appointed him to a vacant city court judge position.

joshua Farrell won a spot on the November ballot when he defeated Jim Long by 40 votes in the Democratic primary after all absentee ballots were counted. Since there is no Republican running, the win effectively secured Farrell a seat in city court.  This week, Farrell has officially become a city court judge a little earlier, thanks to a series of events and circumstances that led Mayor Kathy Sheehan to appoint Farrell to a seat being vacated by Judge Thomas Keefe, who leaves at the end of the month.

Farrell begins hearing cases October 1st.   "Which will give him the opportunity to sit on the bench immediately, and it will also give me the opportunity to engage a panel that has graciously agreed to review applications and adivise me on filling what is anticipated would be two vacancies that would occur on January first."

The mechanics: Farrell sits in for Keefe, and if elected in November to the seat being vacated by retiring Judge Rachel Kretser, he moves over there.   There's still a chance Long could muster enough voters on the Independence and Working Families Party lines to bump Farrell aside come Election Day, but Sheehan says that will have little immediate effect.   "In the off-chance that Josh Farrell is not the winning candidate in November, he will remain in Judge Keefe's seat until he would have to stand for election next year," said Sheehan.,

It has been a busy few weeks for Farrell. "Thank you Mayor Sheehan, for placing your trust in me to preside as our next Albany City Court Judge, and for acting quickly to ensure that the important work of the court will continue, uninterrupted. I accept this position knowing the great responsibility that comes with it. Our court affects thousands of individuals lives and the quality of life in our city. The Albany City Court Judge position is integral to making our city the best it can be, and I am prepared, on day one, to provide every individual who comes before me, with the fair and impartial justice they deserve."

Dr. Alice Green, Albany civil rights activist and Executive Director of the Center for Law and Justice, is on the five-member panel Sheehan has appointed to advise her as she considers applications:  "We're gonna be very, at least I'm gonna be very sensitive to what I think someone can bring to not only the court, but to the community at large."

The second vacancy is a result of City Court Judge Will Carter running unopposed for County Court Judge. Both positions will be filled by the mayor's appointees, who will have to run for election in a year.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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