Tag Archives: James McCarthy

Judge denies motion in county clerk challenge

by Carol Thompson

State Supreme Court Judge James McCarthy has denied a motion to allow the governor to appoint a successor to the office of Oswego County Clerk.

A petition seeking to remove the names of Michael Backus and Phillip Vasho from consideration for the Oswego County Clerk was filed by former legislator James McMahon.

McCarthy submitted a ruling this morning that the state Election Law and the New York Public Officers Law stating any vacancy occurring before Sept. 20 should be filled at the next general election is valid.

Attorney’s for the plaintiff argued that the election for county clerk cannot be held before November 2012 because the vacancy occurred less than three months prior to the general election, as stated in New York State County Law.

Former County Clerk George Williams died Sept. 3 and Backus and Vasho were nominated to run for the seat by the Republican and Democratic county committees.

Scott DelConte of Bond, Schoeneck and King argued for the plaintiff that “there is no ambiguity” in the state’s county law that states a vacancy occurring less than three months before an election must wait until the general election of the following year to be on the ballot.  In his ruling, McCarthy said it is clear from the legislative history, amendments and enactactment of Article V that it was the intent of the legislature to impose the three-month limitation only upon those offices listed within the second sentence of the statute.

During the hearing held yesterday, McCarthy questioned why Governor Andrew Cuomo had not appointed a successor if state county law was indeed valid. There is no word as of yet if an appeal will be filed or if an appeal will be made to the governor to appoint a successor through the end of the year.

Judge McCarthy to rule on county clerk case tomorrow

by Carol Thompson

Oswego County Supreme County Judge James McCarthy will render a decision in an Article 78 proceeding held to determine if the Oswego County clerk position will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election. Attorneys for all side argued the case this afternoon at the county courthouse in Oswego.

Former legislator James McMahon had filed the Article 78, alleging that the successor to the late county clerk George Williams should be appointed by the governor though 2013.

The defendants include the Democrat, Republican, Working Families and Independence parties, candidates Michael Backus and Phil Vasho as well as county election commissioners Donald Wart and Richard Atkins.

Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that New York State County Law section 400 should apply in filling a vacancy. The law states that a vacancy occurring three months prior to an election should be a governor’s appointment.

Attorneys for the defendants argued that state Election Law, which contradicts county law, should prevail and an election should be held.

McCarthy  quizzed the lawyer for the plaintiff extensively. At issue was the placement of a comma in the county law.  McCarthy also noted that if the governor wanted to appoint someone to the position, he would have done so by now.

In attendance at the hearing were Assemblyman Will Barclay, clerk candidate Michael Backus, his father Mark Backus, and Oswego County Conservative Party Chairman Ron Greenleaf.

McCarthy said he will have his decision available at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.