Judge unopposed

Bailey seeks second term

GUILDERLAND — John Bailey is asking voters for another four years on the bench.

Seeking his second four-year term as town justice, Judge Bailey is running unopposed on Nov. 6 on the Democratic, Independence, and Conservative lines.

Since donning the judicial robes, Bailey said he has changed.
"This has been the most rewarding four years of my career as a lawyer," Bailey said of his first term. "I think a lot of lawyers, somewhere in their hearts, would like to be a judge at some point in their careers"When you sit on that bench, you become a different person."
Bailey said that judges must remain the "fairest, most impartial person in the room," and that, as a lawyer, he had to learn how to put his "other life off to the side."
"There’s a presumption that lawyers just know how to be a judge, but learning to be a judge takes time," said Bailey. "There’s a learning curve and I’ve mastered the skills you need to be a judge.
"I’d like to use those skills for at least another four years," he concluded.

Bailey ran for town judge in 2003 when former Judge Kenneth E. Riddett retired after 22 years on the bench. Bailey ran on the Democratic ticket against Republican Edward Downey and won.

However, Bailey said judgeships have much less to do with political affiliations than do other elected positions.
"People would wonder, ‘do I want either of these judges to preside over my case,’" Bailey said of judge candidates who "sling mud" at each other during a race.
Saying it’s "a nice feeling to have an uncontested race," Bailey said that running for a judgeship can take a lot of time, which is often a limited resource for practicing lawyers.

As for the occasional, or not so occasional, 3 a.m. phone call to appear in court for an arraignment, Bailey said it’s an important part of the job. Formally, Guilderland Police had complained town judges were not accessible for arraignments.
"It happens very frequently, and it’s happening more frequently," Bailey said of early-morning arraignment proceedings. "When there is an individual in police custody, who, very often is terrified, that’s when a judge is truly needed."

Usually early morning arraignment proceedings are reserved for people charged with felony offenses and other serious charges, but they can also be for people wanted on misdemeanor arrest warrants, Bailey said.
During his first term, Bailey said he has seen "way too many repeat offenders," but, as a middle-aged man, he said he can also "recognize the bone-headed mistakes a young person can make."

Bailey said he is mindful of the difference between mistakes and intent.
"It’s the place where people go to seek justice"and justice is served," Bailey said of the courtroom. "The job of the judge is to protect the rights of the accused. It’s what separates our country from the rest of the world."

He will never regret his choice to run and being a judge has given Bailey new perspective as a lawyer, he said. The first-term judge did point out, however, that a town court is only as good as its clerks and staff.
"We have a wonderful and experienced support staff," Bailey said. "There is a lot that goes on"and they make it happen."

One of the improvements under his tenure, Bailey said, was the decision by him and the other team judge, Judge Denise Randall, to start court an hour-and-a-half earlier, at 5:30 p.m.
"We’ve had nothing but compliments now that we are starting earlier," Bailey said. "When you get towards midnight, like we used to do, your mind gets a little numb and you begin to wonder if you are making the best possible decisions."

More Guilderland News

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.