Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Newly sworn-in NYS Supreme Court Judge Stephan Schick, art right, tries out his new robes in Friday’s ceremony. Applauding, from left: Tim Havas of Legal Aid, former county District Attorney Steve Lungen, and county Bar Association President Michael Mednick.
Stephan Schick gets elevated
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO January 4 After more than 35-years as an attorney in Sullivan County the last 17 of which he spent at the county’s Legal Aid Panel Inc., first as chief trial attorney and lately as its executive director Stephan Schick was formally sworn in Friday afternoon as the first Sullivan County resident elected to serve in the New York Supreme Court’s 3rd Judicial District since the Hon. Justice Anthony Kane’s 2002 elevation to the district’s Appellate Division.
The oldest Supreme Court with general original jurisdiction in the country, the court was established in 1691 by the Colony of New York as the “Supreme Court of Judicature.” The New York State Supreme Court is comprised of a trial unit and an appellate unit, with the Court of Appeals the highest court in New York State.
In the November 6 election, Schick and Richard Mott of Colombia County also a Democrat managed to unseat incumbent Republicans E. Michael Kavanagh, of Woodstock, and Bernard Malone, of Delmar, from their respective state Supreme Court benches.
Schick, 59, was elected to a 14-year term. The 3rd Judicial District encompasses Sullivan, Ulster, Greene, Colombia, Schoharie, Albany and Rensselaer counties. Elected term notwithstanding, a New York State Supreme Court Justice is required to retire at the end of the calendar year in which he reaches the age of 70. However, and subject to annual review, a justice in the NYS Supreme Court may serve until age 76.
Sullivan County Court Judge Frank LaBuda spoke at the swearing-in, and said, “Few people are blessed by God and are fortunate enough to have their tomorrow today. Stephan, you have worked long and hard for over a quarter of a century for your tomorrow, and indeed your tomorrow is today as you have achieved the pinnacle of a lawyer’s success in becoming a judge who rules over lawyers and the law in the courtroom.
“For being a good judge you must not only know the law, but you must also know people,” added LaBuda. “And the thousands of people you have represented and helped in the courtroom again bear testament to your judicial qualities of acting in the best interests of the law and of society as a whole. You can and will make a difference in the lives of all people who come before you,”
Former Sullivan County District Attorney Stephen F. Lungen was also in attendance and talked about the many high profile cases Schick and he, as Lungen put it, “Squared-up on.”
“It’s a great irony that I was even asked to speak at this occasion, the irony being that we [Schick and Lungen] were so opposite in our careers . . . we’re politically of different parties, which never interfered with what we did, but our professions made us adversaries,” explained Lungen. “You learn a lot about a person when you’re in courtroom with them with those kinds of high stakes… Steve proved himself as an excellent trial attorney and adversary, he was a terrific advocate for the indigent… they got the best defense from him. He was hard working, extremely well prepared and highly respected and he is as always, humble,” added Lungen.
Supreme Court Judge Christopher Cahill, of Ulster County, administered the oath of office to Schick as wife Donna looked on in the public gallery of the courtroom,
An emotional Donna Schick then assisted Cahill in the ceremonial robing ceremony after which a visibly moved, and now “Honorable Judge Schick,” addressed the audience. “This building is a home to me. I probably have spent more waking hours in the last 35 years inside this building than I’ve spent inside my own home… . I just feel at home in the now three courtrooms that are in this building, I feel naturally in a place that is where I want to be.”
Pointing toward LaBuda, Schick remarked, “I think I’ve learned, certainly in the past 20 years, more than I think I wanted to learn.… It’s about the fact that Judge LaBuda is an example of a person who is a judge who understands that there has to be more to life than just a job and being a judge. I hope that while I’m a judge that I can approach the fulfillment of life that you [Judge LaBuda] have outside of being a judge in all of the things that you do. You lead such a rich life outside of the practice of being a judge, and when you were a lawyer, outside of that… I just hope that I can do half of the things that you have.”
Added Schick, “I hope that in the coming years, starting next week, that my being here as a judge in this courthouse will reflect all of the things that I’ve learned, the fact that I feel like I’m home when I’m here, the fact that I think as a litigator, as Steve Lungen said, that I’ll know how to make sure that each attorney has a full opportunity to present his or her case. I know how important that is and how important it is that there be justice and fairness where cases are involved. I can pledge to you that I will do everything in my power, including all that I’ve learned from some of the finest judges that you will ever be in front of, to be as fair and decent as I possibly could.”