Four candidates are vying for three seats on the state Supreme Court in the seven-county Third Judicial District.
Two Democrats from Sullivan County, District Attorney Meagan Galligan and Sharon Graff, and Columbia County attorney Heidi Cochrane received the Democratic Party nomination while Cohoes Judge Tom Marcelle received that of the Republican Party.
The Third Judicial District encompasses Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties. The Supreme Court is the highest trial level court in the state and judges, who serve 14-year terms, hear both civil and criminal trials.
The former school teacher and Albany Law School grad has been a trial attorney for 16 years. Her practice includes civil litigation, family law and criminal defense. She is a member of various bar associates as well as the NAACP, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
After graduating from law school, she began her legal career as an associate with Kindlon Shanks in Albany and was an assistant Greene County and Columbia attorney. She started her own practice in 2007.
According to her website she would work to “expedite cases and curtail exploitative legal maneuvers that cause unnecessary delays;” believes the courts must be free of prejudice and everyone should be provided equal access to justice; and every person deserves to be treated with dignity and understanding.
She is endorsed by the Democratic Parties of each county as well as the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Eleanor’s Legacy and College Democrats of New York.
The Georgetown University Law Center graduate was appointed to Sullivan County District Attorney in 2020 and was elected later that same year becoming the first woman elected to that position. Prior to that, she worked in the DA’s office in various capacities since 2009.
She is a founding member of the Sullivan County Child Advocacy Center and serves on the boards of Hope not Handcuffs of Sullivan County, is a member of the Sullivan County Opioid Epidemic Drug Task Force Team and was the chief prosecutor for the Sullivan County Family Violence Response Team.
“Our judiciary is charged with providing all litigants before it the opportunity to be heard before a Court that is, first and foremost, fair and impartial. Judges must act with honesty and integrity in all matters,” she stated on her website. “These values are paramount to me, both personally and professionally, and underpin my candidacy for Supreme Court.”
She is endorsed by the Democratic Party committies of each county as well as the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, the Liberty Police Benevolent Association, the Fallsburg PBA and College Democrats of New York.
She grew up in Central New York and began her law career in 1998 at a product liability and personal injury firm in Manhattan. In 2001, she began Graff Law in Kingston, where she litigated a wide range of cases including business disputes, property rights, divorce and child support and bankruptcies.
Since 2018, she has been the principal court attorney to Supreme Court Judge Julian D. Schreibman of the state Supreme Court.
While attending law school, Graff volunteered for the Migrant Farm Workers Project and clerked for the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York.
She is endorsed by the Democratic Parties of each county, Capital Women, College Democrats of New York,
The Delmar resident and Cornell Law school graduate began his legal career as an assistant public defender and served as trial counsel for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to becoming a judge in the City of Cohoes, the Republican also worked for the Democratic-dominated Albany County and as chief counsel to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. In his time on the bench he published more than 30 opinion cited more than 250 times by other courts.
In 2001, he argued before the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, and won the case of the Good News Club v. Milford Central School District, which gave religious school groups the same standing as non-religious clubs on school property.
As a Cohoes judge, he was the first judge in the state to rule the controversial 2019 bail reform legislation violated the state’s constitution.
“I have spent my entire life as an upstate New Yorker. It is where I, along with my wife Elena, have raised our three amazing children,” he said on his website. “I continue to be a part of the surrounding communities and I have always successfully worked with everyone to solve issues regardless of political affiliation.”
He is endorsed by the counties Republican Parties as well as a host of judges and law enforcement personnel including Apple, former Court of Appeals Judge Victoria Graffeo, Former Court of Appeals Judge and former Ulster County DA Michael Kavanagh, former Appellate Division Judge Bud Malone, the New York Rifle and Pistol Association and the New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union.
Prior to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8, early voting begins on Saturday, Oct. 8, and continues through Sunday, Nov. 6. Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday. They are open noon to 8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday.
Any registered voter in Albany County can vote at the following locations:
• Albany County Board of Elections at 260 South Pearl St. in Albany.
• Berne Volunteer Fire Company at 30 Canaday Hill Road in Berne
• Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 85 Elm Ave. in Bethlehem
• North Bethlehem Fire Department at 589 Russell Road in Albany
• Pine Grove United Methodist Church at 1580 Central Ave. in Colonie
• Boght Community Fire Department at 8 Preston Drive in Cohoes
• Guilderland Public Library at 2228 Western Ave. in Guilderland.