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Former Lowville judge doesn’t plan to run this fall


LOWVILLE — John J. Youngs doesn’t mean to sound judgmental.

However, the former Lowville town justice, who was removed from his post in March after it was determined that he never ran for re-election last year, remains annoyed that he wasn’t reappointed, but is not planning to seek to regain the job in this fall’s election.

“I think I got a raw deal,” Mr. Youngs said.

While the nine-year judge originally had planned to serve another four-year term, and even picked up nominating petitions earlier this month from the Lewis County Board of Elections, he said Friday that he likely will not run again.

“I would be more disappointed if I were younger,” he said. “Over this situation, I’ve lost a lot of my passion for the job.”

Mr. Youngs, a retired state trooper and Lowville police chief, was first appointed to the judgeship in January 2004 and ran unopposed in the November elections of 2004 and 2008.

County election officials in March noticed the Republican judge should have run for another four-year term last November. Town officials had left the post off their “offices to be filled” list submitted to county election officials last year, and the omission was not noticed then.

Once the error was discovered, Mr. Youngs was stripped of his judgeship, and all open cases were transferred to the town’s other judge, Republican Asa J. Holbrook.

“I think this was a very excessive penalty for a technical mistake,” Mr. Youngs said, adding that he was afforded no hearing or investigation in the matter.

The former judge said he initially believed he would simply be reappointed to the post through the end of the year but, after reporting the matter to an attorney at the state judicial resource center, he soon found out differently.

“That was my first mistake,” he said of calling the Albany-based center.

Later that evening, state Supreme Court Judge Charles C. Merrell personally delivered a letter notifying him that he was now a former judge, Mr. Youngs said.

“I couldn’t even get my personal stuff out of there for about three weeks,” he said of his former office.

The state attorney general’s office last Monday issued an informal opinion that despite there being “no direct precedent” for this case, the post should be filled only through a special election called by the governor. A Town Council appointment could be made if the vacancy occurred because of a death or resignation, but not for a failure to elect, it said.

Rather than request a special election, town officials plan to stick with a single justice through the end of the year and refill the vacancy through the regular election cycle.

Town Supervisor Randall A. Schell at Thursday’s board meeting said he did not push to reappoint Mr. Youngs immediately out of fear that Fifth Judicial District officials ultimately might throw out all of his subsequent cases.

However, that rationale doesn’t completely mollify the ex-judge, who said he thoroughly enjoyed his time on the bench and would have liked to see more support from local officials.

“There is no precedent involved,” Mr. Youngs said. “Let them prove we can’t do it.”

He said he doesn’t believe the “failure to elect” scenario necessarily fits his situation.

“From my point of view, they stated I failed to run for election in 2012,” Mr. Youngs said. “There was no election posted for town justice in November 2012. How can I run for something that wasn’t even posted?”

While acknowledging that he should have been aware of when his term expired, the former judge said he certainly had no involvement in setting up ballots.

“I don’t mind taking some of the blame, but not all of it,” he said.

During ongoing training sessions, town judges were told to avoid politics as much as possible, Mr. Youngs said.

“I did that,” he said. “I stayed out of politics, and it cost me dearly.”

While claiming his loss of the judgeship was “unjustified and possibly illegal,” Mr. Youngs said he doesn’t plan to challenge it and is satisfied with the other candidates lining up for the position, including Judge Holbrook.

Because the sitting judge’s term expires at the end of this year, both four-year judicial spots will be on the November ballot, with the top two vote-getters earning four-year seats.

Along with Judge Holbrook, three other residents said they intend to run for judge this fall. They are Lowville Village Justice Patricia H. Yarina, who also served as Judge Young’s court clerk; Douglas J. Stano, a respiratory therapist at Lewis County General Hospital and former director of Lewis County Search and Rescue, and William R. Kiernan, who retired in February after a lengthy career as a state trooper and investigator.

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