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County Court Candidates State Their Judicial Philosophies

Judicial candidates are prohibited from much of the type of campaigning used for other elected offices. However, the code of judicial conduct does not completely silence judicial candidates. They can educate voters about their qualifications and what type of judges they would be.

There are primaries in the Democratic and Working Families Party lines. Judicial candidates are exempt from having to receive authorization to run on the Working Families Party Line. Four candidates on the Working Families Party line are considered challengers.

Voters in each party will select three candidates.

The following candidate did not respond to our request for information

Marty McCarthy
(Working Families Party Challenger Candidate)

Van White

(Democratic, Working Families Designated Candidate)

Oftentimes judicial philosophies are stated in the abstract. As a result, it can sometimes be difficult to understand and anticipate a judge’s thinking and/or to hold them accountable. However, in my case, residents of Monroe County need only remember one letter (“R”) and five words to understand my judicial philosophy.

First, I will treat everyone who comes before me with RESPECT – which means they will be treated equally, fairly, and most importantly with dignity. Second, given the frustrations that many have regarding the criminal justice system, I will view every controversy and every decision that I make as an opportunity (guided, of course, by our laws and constitutions) to REGAIN and REBUILD our community’s faith in the justice system. Third, whenever appropriate and possible, I will utilize RESTORATIVE justice as a means to not only ensure accountability of the persons before me but also encourage a sense of healing among the parties and within the community. Finally, all judges should have a ongoing RELATIONSHIP with the community that they serve – even when they are not in the courthouse.

Consequently, the residents of Monroe County will see me  (as they have throughout my three decades of public service) in the streets, classrooms, and the community trying to connect with citizens and working with them and other community leaders to support, encourage, and develop a sense of social and economic justice for all people so that they don’t find themselves in the courthouse in the first place. 

Douglas Randall

(Democratic, Working Families Challenger Candidate)

As your county court judge I have spent every day of the last ten years honoring my oath to defend the Constitution and the rights of every person who comes before my court. That means protecting the rights of every person accused of wrongdoing by the police and prosecutors. A judge cannot do that properly if they have not dedicated their career to criminal law practice. People’s rights will be violated unless the judge has an encyclopedic knowledge of the law and extensive courtroom experience to apply it to the nuanced and subtle distinctions that arise in each individual case. No one else has my experience in the courtroom. Being a good judge is about listening and being open minded. It’s about having patience and the demeanor to make sure everyone is heard.

I spent the first 26 years of my legal career working to protect the rights of victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Twenty-six years in County Court practicing criminal law, thinking on my feet, responding to arguments, and fashioning solutions to the problems facing our most vulnerable residents. Children and families who did not have anyone else to fight for them and who just wanted to have a safe life at home.

I chose a career in public service because I care about the well-being of the people in this community. I realize that I’ve been given opportunities that allowed me to go to school here, raise a family here and contribute to our quality of life – opportunities that not everyone in our community is given. Our criminal court system works when you have experienced, self-aware judges who are genuinely concerned about our neighbors and recognize the problems our community faces every day. I have been that judge and will continue to be that judge for Monroe County.

Caroline Edwards-Morrison

(Democratic, Working Families Party Designated Candidate)

Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The law requires me to hold the government to their burden when proving an accused of a crime. I approach each case from a practical and pragmatist point of view by evaluating the case with a focus on a commonsense interpretation and application of the law. It is important that attorneys, the accused, and victims feel that a fair adjudication of the issues is occurring in my courtroom.

I am committed to treating every person who appears before me with dignity and respect. Having been adjudicated a juvenile delinquent, I understand the importance of being seen and heard by those who are determining my future and fate. Also, I recognize how rehabilitation and second chances support accountability. We are a safer and better community with a judiciary that understands the importance of both even when making these decisions are tough and unpopular.

I look forward to continuing to administer justice with integrity as your next Monroe County Court judge. Please remember to cast your vote on Primary Day, June 22.

Julie Cianca

(Democratic, Working Families Party Designated Candidate)

My experience for County Court is the result of representing indigent people who have been accused of serious felonies. I have been doing this for 25 years as a public defender – most of it in County Court. President Biden himself recognizes the importance of putting defense attorneys – particularly public defenders — on the bench. If we are truly going to change the present culture of indifference to injustice, it will take putting
the very people who have been fighting against it in a position to do something about it. That means defense attorneys like me.

Working in the front lines, I have seen racism, dishonesty and unfairness in the courts, and I have witnessed the frightening and tragic consequences. I notice, care about and fight these injustices, and have done so for 25 years. Bail reform is nothing new to me – I have been asking judges to be reasonable about bail and calling attention to the disgraceful practice of setting bail on the poor as a means toward extracting guilty pleas. I call out prosecutors and demand they comply with their ethical duties. I challenge racist practices in policing and in prosecution, while always being sensitive to how racism may play a part in my own decisions and actions. I encourage recognition of substance abuse and mental health in sentencing. I practice these values and have been doing so long before recent criminal justice reform. I am cognizant that science matters, truth matters, and the courtroom is no place for games, speculation, junk science or
bias. Tolerance of these behaviors leads to injustice. I have not tolerated them as a public defender and they will have no place in my courtroom.

I understand that sometimes the facts, the evidence and the circumstances should result in a guilty plea. When it has been appropriate, I have stood with my clients – fully and fairly informed of their options – as they have taken responsibility for their actions with dignity, and with hope that this will lead to a better future. When it isn’t appropriate, I am a skilled litigator, and I have taken more than 150 cases to trial – most of them in County or Supreme Court. This means I am intimately familiar with the jury trial process as well as virtually any issue that can present itself during a trial, as I have had the opportunity to litigate most all of them. This litigation experience means I am knowledgeable and prepared to preside over felony trials.

I have worked hard every day to ensure the accused- no matter what the charge – are treated fairly and the constitution is applied equally, that no innocent person is wrongly accused or convicted, and that no guilty person is demonized. I will continue to give voice to these values as a judge.

Julie Hahn

© 2021 | Kelly Kester Photography

(Working Families Party Challenger Candidate)

I have served Monroe County and practiced as an assistant district attorney for 22 years. For most of my career, I have focused on prosecuting homicides and violent crimes and have conducted many trials in Monroe County and Supreme Court. Criminal law is about people, and the decisions that are made have lasting effects on the parties and the community. I have strived to never lose sight of that fact. Over the course of my career, I have been guided by the principles of fairness, empathy and compassion and following the law to achieve a just result, not just a conviction. I look at cases from the perspective of the defendant, the victim and the community and strive to make the best decisions to achieve a just and fair outcome. I have always been motivated to seek justice for others, and I owe much of that motivation and inspiration to my mother.

I grew up in Rochester and was raised in a single parent home by my mother. She taught me to always do the right thing and be fair and compassionate to people. She worked with and advocated for people with HIV and AIDS at a time when their voices were not heard. She succumbed to the disease when I was 17 years old. Her example inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming an attorney and to be a voice for others and to also listen to others. I have carried the lessons I learned from my mother throughout my life and career.

My judicial philosophy centers around the principles she taught me that have guided me through life and my career. Judges must make decisions that are fair by balancing the need to hold people accountable with a necessary sense of compassion and empathy. Judges must also follow the law without bias and prejudice and free from political influence. Some of the best judges I have appeared before are patient, dignified and courteous to the parties and all who appear before the court. Throughout my career, I have strived to practice these principles.