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The Record - McGrath Unseats Incumbent Supreme Court Judge

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Location: Troy, MT


The Record - McGrath Unseats Incumbent Supreme Court Judge

Kathryn Caggianelli

Rensselaer County Judge Patrick McGrath, a Democrat, easily unseated incumbent and long-time state Supreme Court Justice Anthony Carpinello in the Third Judicial Department.

"I put my 23 years on the bench before voters and got positive results," said McGrath. "I'm very flattered that people appear to be putting their confidence in me to serve as Supreme Court Judge."

McGrath, who led handily by a two-to-one margin immediately after the polls closed, won the seat on the state Supreme Court originally secured by Carpinello in 1994.

The term of office is 14 years. The Third Department includes Rensselaer, Albany, Columbia, Ulster, Schoharie, Greene and Sullivan counties.

A trial judge, McGrath has served on the bench for more than two decades and has heard more than 22,000 cases, including 27 homicide trials. He was elected county court judge in 1994 and re-elected in 2004. Since 2006, he has likewise served as acting Supreme Court Justice and has heard civil and criminal cases from Rensselaer County as well as other counties in the Third Judicial Department.

"It was a good year to run as a Democrat," McGrath said before the final numbers declared him the victor. "I think I have a good reputation in Rensselaer County as a fair and firm judge."

McGrath said his goals haven't changed since he first served on the bench.

"Treat people the way you want to be treated. Never get too impressed with yourself. Use common sense as much as possible. And always work hard. Those words have been my professional motto," he said.

During his campaign, McGrath claimed to be the first judge in the state to establish an upstate drug court for non-violent felony offenders. He likewise was the first judge in the state to uphold the constitutionality of Buster's Law to punish people charged with cruelty to animals.

In 1996 he created the state's first advanced pistol safety course in Rensselaer County.

"We have a desperate shortage of Supreme Court trial judges so I'd be a great addition to the trial court," McGrath previously said.

Late Tuesday night Carpinello acknowledged McGrath's likely victory.

"It appears that I've been a victim of the Obama landslide," Carpinello said.

Carpinello said his defeat was more a reflection of the theme of the national presidential race rather than a reflection of his performance while serving on the state Supreme Court bench or on the Appellate Division, where he was appointed.

As for whether he will entertain the notion of seeking re-election in the future, Carpinello simply said: "One never rules anything out."

Rensselaer County Democratic Chairman Thomas Wade agreed that his party's victory was well earned.

"This is continuing evidence of the resurgence of the Democratic party in Rensselaer County because we offer credible candidates and clear choices for the voters. All candidates ran especially well in Rensselaer County which I attribute to the hard work and the strength of our organization.

"I am particularly proud of Judge Pat McGrath who was nearly denied the nomination to high-jacking tactics used by the Republican Party when they tried to prevent the voters from having a choice on Election Day."

Rather than cross-endorse Carpinello, which is the practice when selecting a state Supreme Court Judge, McGrath decided to run a competitive race. A race most operatives don't like to run because it spans seven counties, is expensive and yields few patronage positions. It was the first race in the Third Department since 1996.

The position pays $136,700.


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