Saturday, November 3, 2018



Brands honored for years on the bench

POUGHKEEPSIE – State Supreme Court Justice James Brands is retiring after more than 20 years on the bench.

The Dutchess County Bar Association paid homage to him at a luncheon in Poughkeepsie on Thursday with more than 300 people in attendance. 

Brands: " There hasn't been a day I've not enjoyed going to court":

Brands served as a Supreme Court Justice in Poughkeepsie and since 2016 as a designated justice for the New York State Appellate Court, Second Department.

Supreme Court Justice Maria Rosa emceed the event that she described as having an "overwhelming turnout… not surprising given how respected and how well liked Judge Brands is by everyone."

Judge Rosa joined several current and retired judges from various parts of the state as well as lawyers, elected officials and community leaders in paying tribute to the judge that Sheriff Butch Anderson said "has done a lot for the community."

New York State Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York, the Honorable Janet DiFiore mentored under Judge Brands in Family Court when she was first elected to the bench in the late 1990's.  DiFiore recognized the tenure of Brands calling it "a truly distinguished 32-year career in public service."  The Chief Judge noted that Brands will continue to serve the system, having agreed to stay on as a judicial hearing officer.

The legal career of Judge Brands extends back over three decades having started his legal career as an assistant district attorney and county attorney for Dutchess County before being elected Family Court Judge in Dutchess in 1994.     Brands served in family court before being elected to Supreme Court, taking office in 2002. 

At the luncheon, Brands was presented with his official judicial portrait.  Prior to the unveiling it was draped in black cloth and the judge, known for his sense of humor did not let the moment pass. "When I walked in and saw the portrait draped in black I figured I was half-an-inch away from a flag at half-mast.  It's bad enough that because of my age, when I walk into a restaurant they want to be paid in advance, but now this..." 

Continuing to make fun of his age-forced retirement mentioned that the attorney for the county legislature, Scott Volkman had asked him if he had lived in Dutchess County all of his life to which Brands replied "not yet!"  After the laughter subsided, Brands told the audience "nobody owes me any thanks.  There hasn't been a day I've not enjoyed going to court and trying to help the best I can."

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