Big judge

Looks like Justice Francis Nicolai will be sticking around as the Administrative Judge for the 9th Judicial District. The 9th covers Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and Dutchess counties; i.e. the Lower Hudson Valley.

Nicolai, a state Supreme Court justice in civil court, is 69, and he acknowledged that most administrative judges are asked to step down when they turn 70. So he wasn’t sure if he was going to be invited back when he met with the state’s most senior judges in Manhattan recently.

Apparently the meeting went well, because when I asked if he was staying, he replied, “Every indication is that I will be.” He noted he can’t make any definitive statements until he gets an official letter in January.

A brief explanation about what Nicolai does. Administrative judges assign other judges to civil or criminal courts and can appoint city judges as acting county court judges — giving them a leg up if they want to run for that office later on. He also handles judges’ vacation schedules and approves higher-level hiring of clerks and other top court personnel.

At the meeting in Manhattan, Nicolai gave his annual report about the 9th district abnd his plans for the upcoming year. While acknowledging the horibly economy and New York’s budget crunch, he said he would like a few more Family Court judges to handle the heavy caseload in the 9th. Right now, he has a Mount Vernon city court judge and a Surrogate Court judge in Rockland overseeing Family Court cases.

Guess we’ll have to see if his wish escapes or falls under the governor’s budget ax.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.