Westchester judge denies special prosecutor in child rape, murder case

Westchester County Judge Barry Warhit (left) was called up to Putnam County this week to make a ruling on a 15-year-old case in Carmel involving the rape and murder of a 12-year-old Carmel girl.

Warhit, a relatively new judge who has been praised by both prosecutors and defense lawyers in Westchester for his fair judgements and balanced rulings, denied the defense’s request to appoint a special prosecutor, give immunity to a Sing Sing inmate who may testify and have the court interview every potential witness to check for possible coersion in the upcoming retrial of accused killer Anthony DiPippo.

DiPippo and another man, Andrew Krivak, were convicted of killing Josette Wright, a seventh-grader who disappeared in October 1994. Her body was found in the Patterson woods the following year. DiPippo was granted a new trial last year after a state appeals court found that his lawyer had a conflict of interest in the case.

Westchester Bar ranks judges in ’10 election

It’s the list we’ve been waiting for … the Westchester County Bar  Association has released their ranking of judicial candidates seeking office this November.

For the New York State Supreme Court, Ninth Judicial District

Found well qualified:
Hon. Linda Christopher
Hon. Colleen Duffy
Hon. Lawrence H. Ecker
Hon. Gerald M. Klein
Hon. J. Emmett Murphy

Found qualified:
Hon. Matthew J. Byrne
Hon. James Maisano

For Surrogate’s Court, Westchester County

Found well qualified:
Hon. Anthony Scarpino, Jr

For the Westchester County Court

Found well qualified:
Hon. Barry E. Warhit

Found qualified:
Douglas J. Martino

For Family Court, Westchester County

Found well qualified:
Edward P. Borelli
Hon. David Klein
Michelle I. Schauer

Found qualified:
Patricia A. O’Callaghan

Meets minimum requirements:
Hal B. Greenwald
Hon. Nilda Morales Horowitz

Found not qualified, failure to appear:
Hon. William Edwards

For the Yonkers City Court:

Found well qualified:
Hon. Robert C. Cerrato
Hon. Thomas R. Daly
Hon. Theodora K. Wood

Found qualified:
Hon. Evan Inlaw
Hon. Richard F. Sweeney

An explanation of the rankings:
Well Qualified signifies that a candidate has extraordinary qualifications for the judicial bench being sought.
Qualified signifies that the candidate has the character, temperament, professional aptitude and experience which are requisites for the judicial bench that he/she is seeking.
Meets Minimum Requirements signifies that a candidate has no significant negative impediment but lacks some important qualification for the judicial bench that is being sought.
Not Qualified signifies that a candidate has some characteristic which would indicate that the person is a poor choice for the judicial bench he/she is seeking.
Any candidate who fails to appear will be rated Not Qualified by Failure to Appear, or, where appropriate, Not Qualified.  No candidate may withdraw from the interview process or decline a rating.

Ballot is set for Westchester County, Family Court judicial races

A Mount Vernon lawyer backed by Republicans to be a Westchester County Court judge this fall secured the Conservative Party line over his Democratic challenger in yesterday’s primary race.

Douglas Martino won the minority line by a nearly 3-1 ratio over Barry Warhit, a Greenburgh lawyer who was appointed to the bench several months ago. The vote was 833 to 303, according to unofficial vote tallies.

They will face off in the Nov. 2 election. Warhit will carry the Independence and Working Families party lines as well as the Democratic line.

County Court judges preside over felony criminal cases.

In the other countywide judicial race, eight candidates are vying for four open seats on the bench in Family Court, which handles child custody, visitation and neglect cases as well as juvenile delinquency issues.

Incumbents David Klein of Mamaroneck and Nilda Morales Horowitz of White Plains are running for a second term. Both are endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties.

The other Democratic candidates for Family Court are Family Court attorney referee Michelle Schauer of Ossining and Hal Greenwald, a Yonkers lawyer who specializes in Family Court cases. They will appear on the Working Families party line as well.

Republicans endorsed Patricia O’Callahan, a former deputy county attorney and Bill Edwards, an acting Family Court judge in White Plains. Former Yonkers City Court Judge Edward P. Borrelli and candidate Mary Clark replaced Sharon Bell Adamo of Pound Ridge and Guy T. Parisi of Rye as Republican candidates.

Edwards and Clark will appear on the Independence line, while Greenwald and Borrelli will appear on the Conservative line. Horowitz and O’Callahan will carry both the Conservative and Independence lines.

Both Democrats and Republicans endorsed incumbent Surrogate Court Judge Anthony Scarpino for another term. Surrogate Court judges handle wills and estates and decide disputed claims among family members.

Judges for County, Family and Surrogate courts serve 10-year terms and receive $136,700 a year.

Warhit on track to be county judge

Indefatigable Greenburgh attorney Barry Warhit has been nominated by Gov. David Patterson to be a Westchester County Court judge.

Warhit, a longtime criminal defense lawyer who began his career as a young prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, would replace Judge Jeffrey Cohen, who moved up to Orange County when he was elected to the state Supreme Court last year.

Warhit has to be confirmed by the New York State Senate before he dons the black robe. He’s been a part-time acting judge in local courts, including White Plains City Court, where I once appeared before him with an expired vehicle inspection ticket. The look he gave me can only be described as “What are YOU doing here?!” But in all fairness, I received no special treatment. My ticket was dismissed with several others once we showed proof of inspection.

If approved, Warhit would have to run for judge in the next election to keep the job permanently. And he may already have competition. A Mount Vernon lawyer named Doug Martino is campaigning to get on the Republican and Conservative ballot lines. Whoever wins, I hope they give me good quotes at sentencings.

UPDATE: Irvington Village Justice Lawrence Ecker also has been nominated to serve as a state Supreme Court Justice, according to the governor’s office. He would replaced Joseph Alessandro, who was removed from the bench last year for alleged misconduct relating to a loan to his 2003 campaign. Ecker is a partner in in his own law firm.

Guns + trash can + conflicting stories = acquittal

Vance Major is a happy man today, having been found not guilty of gun charges that his attorney said could have sent the Yonkers convict to prison for 30 years.

Major, 29, has two prior felony convictions – a 2000 weapons charge and a 2006 drug possession charge – and was on trial for felony gun  charges after plainclothes police officers said they saw Major toss two guns into a trash can on Oliver Street the night of Sept. 10, 2008.

Other people hanging around the area said they saw Major ditch the guns in the garbage as well, but the jury chose to believe two other witnesses who testified that they were with Major that night and he had no part in any gun-tossing. The panel dismissed the entire five-count indictment.

In what will be entered as the Understatement of the Year, his attorney, the indefatigable Barry Warhit,  said his client was “relieved” by the verdict, adding that Major “is anticipating getting on with his life.”