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Judge declines to rule on NY Senate chaos case

The judge who may hold the fate of the state Senate leadership in his hands is known as a deliberative jurist with little interest in intervening in political disputes.

"I can't let this go on forever," Acting Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. McNamara said Monday in giving attorneys for Senate Democrats and Republicans-plus-Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) an extension until Tuesday to work out a power-sharing solution.

"In the strongest way I can urge you please resolve this without the necessity of a court intervention," McNamara said.

McNamara, 62, of Ballston Spa, is a Republican whom Gov. George Pataki named to the Court of Claims in 1995 and as an acting supreme court judge in 2004. A graduate of the Albany School of Law, he first attracted attention in 2000 when he threw Donald Trump off the state Reform Party's presidential ballot.

"He's deliberative and thoughtful and has a temperament that's respected," said David Miranda, the president of the Albany County Bar Association.

Last year, McNamara upheld then- Gov. Eliot Spitzer's policy granting state benefits to same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere.

And in 2007, McNamara dismissed a lawsuit filed by Nassau County District Court Judge Edward Maron and Supreme Court Justices Joseph A. DeMaro of Nassau and Arthur Schack of Brooklyn seeking a pay increase for all state judges.

While the judges argued their low pay could threaten their independence, McNamara said state lawmakers must approve any specific judicial pay hike.

"Showing that political branch benign neglect is destructive of judicial independence presents a difficult task," he wrote.

With the Associated Press

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