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Town of Catskill officials say judges don't need law degrees

Jul 28, 2023 12:11 am

Andrea Macko reports for Porcupine Soup that Town of Catskill officials believe a law degree is not necessary to be a judge. On July 19 the Catskill town board passed a resolution opposing a bill that would require justices in New York’s 100 highest-volume local courts to be licensed attorneys for at least five years. Catskill Town Supervisor Dale Finch was not sure if his town fits that category but said, “In our estimation the legislation is just a first step. Once implemented there will be a desire by some to expand the legation to include all town courts in the State of New York.” Senator Sean Ryan, who sponsored the bill disagreed, saying, "In towns and villages across the state, the people handing down jail sentences have often never spent a day studying law.... This legislation is a significant criminal justice reform which will help ensure that New Yorkers receive their due process right to appear before a judge who is qualified as an attorney.” New York is one of just eight states currently allowing non-lawyer judges to hand down jail sentences for misdemeanors without the right to a new trial before a lawyer-judge. Read more about this story in Porcupine Soup.

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