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November 5, 2012

Becker challenger: Judges should show 'dispassion'

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Incumbent Delaware County Court Judge Carl Becker, a Republican, is being challenged for a 10-year term by Margaretville lawyer and Middletown Court Judge Gary Rosa, a Democrat, in Tuesday’s general election.

Becker, who lives in Stamford, was elected to the position in 2002. His major accomplishment was the establishment of the Delaware County Drug Court, he said. It provides intensive rehabilitation and supervision for crimes that are substance abuse related. This gives people who commit such crimes an opportunity to develop skills that allow them to be productive members of society. It has advantages over traditional jail sentences for these types of crimes and costs a lot less to operate. The first such case was heard in 2005.

The main reason people should vote for him is experience, he said. Before his decade as judge, he served several villages and towns as attorney, developing expertise in issues relating to the New York City Watershed. From 1974-2002, he was assistant county attorney, assigned primarily to the Department of Social Services. This provided him with experience working in Family Court that has led to a commitment and passion to working in that court. Working with DSS, “I know what they can do because I know the system.”

If elected, he can’t complete his term, because term limits don’t allow judges to serve past the end of the year when they turn 70. For Becker that will be 2018. But that should not be an issue because a new person will run for a full term starting the following year, Becker said.

With a large case load before him, Becker has been known to push lawyers to get their cases done. “There is a time to say we’ve heard enough,” he said. “You need to assert your authority at times to make sure lawyers are prepared.”

There is also a time to show compassion, he said. “You have to have the range to say the things that need to be said for the good of society.”

Rosa, 52, has been Middletown Court judge for 20 years. He began his general and family law practice in Margaretville in 1988. He lives in New Kingston. 

“I’m born and raised in Delaware County, and I have a feeling we all owe something back to the community,” he said about why he is in the race. “Being a judge is what I have to offer.”

He is running now because with a 10-year term, there is a window when he has enough experience, and term limits won’t have an impact, he said. 

Serving a full term takes politics out of the system as much as possible, he said.

“Judges are human,” but in his 20 years he has never lost his temper on the bench. A judge should show “dispassion,” he said.

As a long-serving attorney, he has experience in all levels of county court, except Drug Court. As a judge, he has many years of experience listening to both sides of an issue and deciding who is telling the truth. A local judge gets to hear a wider range of cases than a county judge does, he said. Both he and his opponent have the same “qualified” rating from the state Independent Judicial Qualification Commission, he said.