Copy of ballot for Justice of the Supreme Court race....

Copy of ballot for Justice of the Supreme Court race. (Oct. 29, 2911) Credit: None/

Among 21 candidates vying for 10 State Supreme Court vacancies on Long Island on the Nov. 8 ballot are a veteran Suffolk justice, two law clerks who aspire to the bench, and a Yonkers lawyer with no real interest in becoming a judge.

The State Supreme Court has broad authority over civil and criminal cases and is the only New York court that addresses such matrimonial matters as separation, annulment and divorce. The job, with a term of 14 years, will pay $174,000 annually by 2014.

In Suffolk, State Supreme Court Justice Paul J. Baisley Jr., of Huntington, is seeking a second term. He's presided over negligence, medical malpractice and matrimonial cases.

"There is an intellectual challenge to the law and to being a judge," said Baisley, who has the Republican and Conservative lines. "I like the challenge of trying to resolve or helping people to resolve their disputes."

Helen Gugerty, principal law clerk to State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Brown in Nassau, has the Democratic, Working Families and Independence lines. She says after practicing as an attorney for 23 years, she wants a change.

"I realized this has been a dream of mine," said Gugerty, of Bayville. "I love the law, interpreting and researching the law, and working out settlements of cases."

Unlike Gugerty and Baisley, Yonkers attorney Evan Inlaw said he is running to help Democratic Assemb. Michael Spano win the Yonkers mayoral race. Inlaw's candidacy on the Working Families line centers on a quirk in state election law. "I'm not really running . . . I don't really have a snowball's chance on a summer's day," Inlaw said.

Inlaw had been running for Yonkers mayor as a "placeholder" -- New York allows people to "hold a place" as a candidate for a party that really wants to back someone else. The Working Families Party wanted to back the winner of the Democratic primary for Yonkers mayor and that was Spano.

By law, the only way to get Inlaw off the Working Families line so Spano could have it, was to have him seek another office. The party decided to run Inlaw for State Supreme Court on Long Island because of the large number of vacancies.

Other candidates who say they really do want to be elected to State Supreme Court include District Court Judge Joseph A. Santorelli of West Babylon, on the Republican and Conservative lines. He says, "As a judge, it's the pinnacle of service. They're very important cases."

Jerome C. Murphy, an attorney and senior partner at Chesney & Murphy in Baldwin, is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

Murphy, of Island Park, said, "The court system and the judiciary [are] very important to this country and if we don't have a strong and independent judiciary, it will diminish."

Joseph H. Lorintz, of Jericho, principal law clerk to State Supreme Court Justice Randy Sue Marber in Nassau, has the Democratic and Working Families lines and says: "As a judge you're balancing each side's views to determine what is correct and how you should apply the law to the facts of each case."


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