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Judge Schick sworn in; From legal aid to the bench

Former district attorney Steven Lungen praises Schick, his long-time legal adversary.

By Fritz Mayer
January 2, 2013

The swearing in of Judge Stephen Schick offered a look back at 30 years of jurisprudence in Sullivan County. Schick, who had served as executive director of Sullivan County Legal Aid and as a legal aid attorney, was sworn into office on December 29, at the county court house in Monticello. He is now New York State Supreme Court Justice for the Third Judicial District, which serves Sullivan County, as well as Ulster, Green, Albany, Schoharie, Rensselaer and Columbia counties.

Judge Frank LaBuda presided over the ceremony as judges Mark Meddaugh, Michael McGuire, Anthony Kane and Kevin Cahill looked on. LaBuda congratulated Schick for winning the election so decisively, but added that now Schick would be divorced from politics. He said, “The politics are over once you are elected. It’s unfortunate our friends in Washington can’t adopt the same philosophy.”

In offering advice to Schick, LaBuda quoted from the oath given to grand jurors, which reads, in part, “You shall make no decision from envy, hatred or malice, nor shall you avoid any decision because of fear, favor, affection, or reward, or hope thereof.”

Former, longtime district attorney Steven Lungen also spoke, who, being the top prosecutor in the state, worked opposite Schick to resolve some 3,000 cases a year. He said the two worked on between 30 and 35 murder cases, and Schick always provided vigorous defense for his clients, even though often times the clients did not appreciate it.

Lungen said that Schick “proved himself as an excellent trial attorney. But sometimes we would have a case where a defendant made a confession, we had DNA evidence, we had a bunch of eyewitnesses of the crime, but it was Schick’s fault that he couldn’t get them off, not their fault that they did it in front of an audience and left all this evidence behind.”

Schick accepted the judgeship in honor of all of the legal aid professionals working in Sullivan and beyond, knowing that they are often not appreciated by society. He also got a laugh at the expense of his former judicial sparring partner, Lungen.

Looking around the courtroom, he said he felt at home there. He said, “In the past 35 years, I’ve probably spent more waking hours in this building than in my own home.” He then looked and Lungen and added, “because of listening to Steve Lungen’s summations I probably spent more non-waking hours here, too.”