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EDITORIAL: Hurd’s absurd replacement

Posted 9/2/22

The United States District Court Northern Division of New York is divided into five civil case filing divisions. Oneida, Lewis, Herkimer, Otsego and Hamilton counties are located in the Utica Filing …

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EDITORIAL: Hurd’s absurd replacement

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The United States District Court Northern Division of New York is divided into five civil case filing divisions. Oneida, Lewis, Herkimer, Otsego and Hamilton counties are located in the Utica Filing Division.

It makes no judicial sense for Democratic President Joe Biden, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s support, to nominate a judge from Clifton Park, almost two hours away north of Albany, to serve the Utica Division locally.

Gillibrand’s office claims the nominee is “committed to holding court in Utica.” That promise was not sufficient for Judge David N. Hurd, 85, who pulled his notice of retirement in protest.

The nomination is politically tone deaf. It is absurd to suggest that no one is qualified for the position who lives locally within the Mohawk Valley.

We support the positions of Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr., Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, and Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, all of whom have expressed deep concerns with Sen. Gillibrand‘s recommendation to replace Judge Hurd with a non-Utica resident.

Hurd rescinded his plan to take senior status, a form of semi-retirement, after learning that he would be replaced by Jorge Alberto Rodriguez, age 43, of Clifton Park.

“You can ensure the Mohawk Valley, Oneida County and the Greater Utica area not be forgotten by Senator Gillibrand, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the President of the United States when it comes to proper U.S. District Court representation,” Picente said in a letter to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY.

A Tuesday, Aug. 30, letter from Buttenschon to Gillibrand — who nominated Rodriguez — read, “It is imperative that [Hurd’s] replacement and the court remain in Utica, New York. Utica is centrally located in the district and serves the surrounding area for so many that are in need of the federal court system.”

Sen. Griffo released a statement on Judge Hurd’s behalf, indicating that Sen. Gillibrand was “trying to steal” the judgeship from Utica.

“Despite Sen. Gillibrand’s office indicating that a federal judgeship will remain in Utica, I question the senator’s sincerity. We all see this for what it is: A disingenuous attempt to steal a judgeship from the Mohawk Valley and move it to the Capitol District,” said Griffo in a written statement.

“Thankfully, U.S. District Court Judge Hurd, who is an exceptional and distinguished judge, was willing to take a stand to ensure that a federal judgeship remains in the region. Sadly, Sen. Gillibrand is once again showing her lack of interest in and unfamiliarity with our area that she under-represents in the U.S. Senate.”

Sen. Griffo reiterated that although Rodriguez has expressed a willingness to preside in Utica, his name should be withdrawn.

We certainly agree.

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