Justice Garry to be honored by state bar association for her public service

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Justice Elizabeth A. Garry

Elizabeth A. Garry, who grew up on the Helderberg Hilltowns and is the presiding justice of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, Third Department, is set to receive the Robert L. Haig Award from the New York State Bar Association.

The award, which is given out by the association’s Commercial & Federal Litigation Section, will be presented to her on Saturday, May 18, during a cocktail reception and gala dinner.

“Justice Garry has a long and distinguished career serving the people of the state of New York,” said Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association, in a release from the association announcing the award. “She is respectful and fair, beloved by all and recognized as a visionary leader. We are proud to honor her record of public service with this prestigious award.” 

Garry, who grew up on the Hillcrest dairy farm in Berne, was appointed to the Appellate Division, Third Department in 2009; she was named presiding justice in 2018.

“Farm life requires a level of discipline and common sense,” Garry told The Enterprise when she was appointed to the Appellate Division. “From my father I got a love of people that’s been really helpful to me.”

Her late father, Harry Garry, was known as “The Singing Farmer.” He performed locally and for years wrote a column for The Altamont Enterprise, called “Down on the Farm.” Active in the Farm Bureau, he was an advocate for farmers across the state.

Her mother, the late Margery Smith, a family physician, was a pioneer in her field as a female doctor serving the rural Hilltowns.

“I learned the bedrock principles of our society from them,” said Garry of her parents. They taught her, by example, the value of service to the community and of hard work, she said.

Garry, a Democrat, had been elected in 2006 to the State Supreme Court, Sixth Judicial District in New York’s southern tier where Republican voters were dominant. Before that, she had worked as a judge for the town of New Berlin and as a litigator for the Joyce Law Firm in Sherburne.

She graduated from Alfred University in 1984 after studying psychology and religion, and earned her law degree in 1990 from Albany Law School.

Garry is a past co-chair and current commissioner of the Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission of the New York Courts. She is a founding member of the Del-Chen-O Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York and a member of the Board of the International Association of LGBTQ+ Judges. She served as a regional delegate and treasurer of the Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of New York and became a trustee of Albany Law School in 2022.

The award is named after Robert L. Haig, past chair of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section, and is presented to a long-standing member of the legal profession who has rendered distinguished public service.

The Haig Award presentation will be the highlight of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section’s Spring Meeting, which will be held at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs from May 17 to 19.

More Hilltowns News

  • Thomas F. Conover, a 35-year-old man from Westerlo, was told to leave a gathering of people at a Westerlo home, only to return with a shotgun, which he aimed at several people, including children, according to the New York State Police. 

  • Two town board members are already in opposition, with one, Josh Beers, saying he feels the savings is too minor and that it could be motivated by political vendettas. Supervisor Matthew Kryzak, who made the proposal and said there had been conversations about this as far back as 2021, denies this. A public hearing is scheduled for June 18 at 6 p.m.

  • The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Board of Education needs more than 60 percent of district residents to vote “yes” for a tax-cap piercing budget on June 18, or else will have to move to a contingency budget that could result in cuts to after-school and athletic programs, among others. 

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