Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 14th, 2009

Ira Cohen might be heading to the Supreme Court

With Appellate Justice Anthony Kane retiring, it seemed as if Sullivan County was on the verge of losing its only state judgeship position, but all may not be lost thanks to recent Democratic Party developments.

It appears as if Treasurer and former County Attorney Ira Cohen has emerged as the frontrunner amongst Democratic Judicial Delegates throughout the District to become the party’s nominee for State Supreme Court Judge.

Ironically, it was Cohen who pleaded with the local Democratic Committee to support Kane despite the fact he was a Republican arguing his outstanding record as a member of our judiciary.

The general rule had been that a sitting Supreme Court Judge was usually cross endorsed by all political parties providing there was a record of impartiality. In the case of Kane, not only was he recognized as being unbiased, but he was an Appellate Justice.

Local Democrats instead endorsed highly respected legal aid head Steven Schick, but it became increasingly obvious it would be practically impossible for him to receive the support he needed from other counties to win the nomination at the Judicial Convention this September. Local Democratic Judicial Delegates met last week to discuss the plan to replace Schick with Cohen.

Schick has an outstanding reputation and is probably Sullivan County’s leading defense attorney with strong knowledge of the law, but unfortunately he does not have the political clout needed to win the nomination. He has agreed to step aside providing the numbers are there for Cohen.
Some say it was “old party politics and settling the score of personal vendettas” that led party strongholds not to support Kane. Others claimed Democrats should only endorse Democrats.

Nonetheless, Sullivan County Democrats now have to figure out how to hold on to the seat, and Cohen may be the answer because Democratic Party leaders from other counties approached Cohen and Democratic County Chairman Steven Wilkinson on Cohen becoming the Democratic Supreme Court Judicial Nominee.
1Sullivan County is part of the Third Judicial District, comprised of seven counties: Sullivan, Ulster, Schoharie, Greene, Columbia, Albany and Rensselaer. There are fifteen Supreme Court seats in the District, but the nomination process for selection of candidates is done by weighted voting, based upon the population of each county.

In the past, there has been an unwritten rule that each county should have at least one seat. Recently, however, the larger counties have used their voting strength to nominate candidates from their own counties. As a result, the three smallest counties no longer have a resident Judge, and now we are at risk of losing ours.
Albany and Ulster counties control eleven of the fifteen seats in the District.
Fortunately, there are many influential people in several of the counties that believe Sullivan County should be able to keep its seat, and have sought out Cohen who is well known with impeccable credentials, knowledge, experience and integrity.

Cohen’s resume is quite impressive and should play a key factor in his winning the nomination.

In addition to his broad experience in local government issues, Cohen has had a long tenure as a private practitioner in areas of both criminal defense and civil law.

He has tried both civil and criminal cases, and has argued matters orally in both trial courts and appellate courts, state and federal, on behalf of private and municipal clients.

If in fact Cohen wins the Democratic nomination for Supreme Court, his position of County Treasurer will need to be filled by party replacement committees. Because Republicans did not endorse anyone for County Treasurer they cannot run a candidate, only Democratic, Conservative, and Independence parties can.

There are several scenarios being talked about that could take place in the Treasurer’s race. One would have Deputy County Treasurer Nancy Buck, a Republican switching party lines to run as a Democrat. Buck would be the sensible choice.

Another scenario could see County Clerk and former Treasurer Dan Briggs returning to the position he held prior to becoming County Manager and Neil Gilberg returning to the County Clerk’s office. This scenario would mean a deal would need to be made and all political parties would have to work together.
Then there is Kane and what will he do once he steps down from the bench. There is already speculation that he might run for a seat on the Sullivan County Legislature.

Yes indeed, the political world in Sullivan County is continually revolving, and here you thought we just had to focus on a District Attorney and Sheriff’s race.

1 comment to Ira Cohen might be heading to the Supreme Court

  • Woodstock

    Sorry, but Cohen stands no chance. There are at least 8 other candidates and, odds are, one of the Albany candidates will get the lion’s share of support.