Five judges took oaths of office in Nassau County on Thursday in a ceremony marked by speeches that blended sentiment with a show of gratitude and even a bit of wit.
New State Supreme Court Justice Julianne Capetola, 59, of Woodbury, called herself fortunate to already have spent one-third of her life as a judge. She previously was an elected Family Court judge and an acting state Supreme Court justice.
“It is what I always wanted to be ever since two of my high school teachers encouraged me to pursue a career in law,” Capetola said of being a judge.
New State Supreme Court Justice Jack Libert, 66, of Oyster Bay, told the audience in a Mineola court building that he decided at age 8, when his father took him to watch a trial in the Bronx, that he wanted to wear a judge’s black robe someday.
“My father encouraged me and guided me, although I think he was hoping for a dentist,” he joked.
Libert comes to the job after last serving as a partner in a Uniondale law firm, and also has been planning and development commissioner and public works commissioner for the Town of Oyster Bay.
New State Supreme Court Justice James McCormack, 55, of Jericho, thanked his family, political supporters and the public for helping him ascend to the bench, saying “without you voters, none of this happens.”
McCormack, who was elected a County Court judge in 2005 and previously was an acting state Supreme Court justice, also spoke of some people who probably never pictured him in the job.
“I can think of a few nuns at my former high school, Holy Trinity in Hicksville, who would be blessing themselves at the very thought of Jim McCormack in any kind of official black robes,” he joked.
New state Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald, 61, of Garden City, who previously was a criminal defense attorney and Mineola law firm partner, apologized to his family for countless interrupted meals “while I had to take a call from a client who was about to be arrested, or from a nervous political candidate, some of whom were also about to be arrested.”
New Nassau Surrogate’s Court Judge Margaret Reilly, 52, of Oyster Bay, thanked family, friends and political leaders for supporting her.
The judge, who previously served as a State Supreme Court justice since 2011, also gave a nod to court employees.
“A judge is sometimes only as good as the people who stand with them in the courtroom, and I can say that I have had the best,” Reilly said.