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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December 18th, 2009

Judge Harold Bauman incident sparks legislation

On a recent Sunday afternoon during an ordinary arraignment in the Village of Liberty, Judge Harold Bauman never expected or experienced what would happen to him, nor could he believe there was no law to protect him from such actions.

Judge Bauman explains what happened to him, “I had just completed an arraignment of a defendant on a misdemeanor charge in the courtroom. The defendant was in the custody of a sheriff’s deputy when he bolted out of the courtroom and ran towards the front door of the courthouse. I was walking out of the courtroom and was pushed by the defendant against a bulletin board and a glass window breaking the wall with my left shoulder. While handcuffed, the defendant exited the building and ran down Main St where he was apprehended by Liberty police officers.”

At Catskill Regional Medical Center the defendant was charged with 2 counts of felony assault on police officers, escape and misdemeanor assault on a judge.

The Penal Law elevates the assault statutes to a felony when the assault is committed on a police officer, peace officer, EMT, fireman, bus driver and conductor but does not raise the status of a judge or prosecutor to that of a bus driver.

Judges are on the front line in defending the public from crime, yet they were ignored by the legislature. Bauman shocked that the law did not elevate an assault against a prosecutor or justice, decided to go directly to our local elected state officials to change the law.

State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther want this loophole changed. They immediately introduced bills in the State legislature to further protect our judges and prosecutors.

Discussing the legislation with me, Bonacic said, “Any criminal activity is foolish. A defendant has to be either stupid or crazy to attack a prosecutor or a Judge. We cannot have Judges and District Attorneys worrying about being attacked.”

“I was truly surprised to learn that our public servants working in the court system do not have appropriate protections in the law,” Gunther told me.  “Perpetrators have to realize that assaulting a judge or other courtroom personnel will be a felony charge added to whatever other reason they have come before the court.  These professionals serve the public with little acclaim and must be protected.”

Come January Bauman will be doing double duty in Liberty as he also becomes a Town Judge replacing Jeff Altbach who is retiring after over 20 years on the bench.

Bauman brings to the bench an impressive and prestigious background that will surprise many Sullivan County residents. Besides being a well respected justice and attorney, Bauman was an aerospace engineer who worked on such projects as our Apollo Space missions. The many stories he has told me over the years are quite fascinating and breathtaking.

In 1964 Bauman began a career with Grumman Engineering and fulfilled a dream working on the Lunar Module program. He was involved with Apollo 11 and Neil Armstrong’s first lunar landing, followed by the ill fated flight of Apollo 13 and the breathtaking rescue mission.

Bauman attended Law School at night after working on spacecraft during the day. In 1973 he came to Liberty to practice law.

In 1978 when Steve Lungen left the DA’s office as an Assistant District Attorney they practiced law together for 4 years. In 2003 Bauman was elected Village of Liberty Justice, where incoming DA Jim Farrell was assigned prosecutor.

Ironically, the day Lungen steps down and Farrell becomes District Attorney, he will be sworn in as town Judge where he will share duties with Judge Brian Rouke.

Bauman told me he looks forward to the challenge of judging in both the Town and Village, and I know without a doubt he will serve us well.

Thank you to John Bonacic and Aileen Gunther for introducing this important legislation that will make it a felony if someone attacks a judge or prosecutor.

1 comment to Judge Harold Bauman incident sparks legislation

  • ann conklin

    To our fellow readers and residents of Sullivan County. It was with great pleasure of having learned that Harold Bauman will be serving the community in Liberty as the new Town Justice for Liberty. Even though he will be doing “double duty” if anyone can do it Mr. Bauman can do it.

    How do I know, I had the pleasure of working with Harold Bauman at his law firm in Liberty for two years before retiring for a while to Florida to take care of my elderly father, who has now passed away.

    Harold Bauman, is not only a great and respected lawyer he is a one of a kind human being. He has the fortitude, knowledge, and wisdom to handle both positions.

    Good luck to you.

    Ann Conklin