8th Judicial District says interim judges will fill in for short term after Punch retires

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2017 at 9:07 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Courthouse is pictured last week. Judge James Punch has worked out of the building the past 32 years, with 27 as county judge and five as district attorney.

ALBION – The impending retirement of James Punch as a judge for several courts in Orleans County will leave a void that may take more than one judge to fill after Punch retires on July 29.

The 8th Judicial District is working on a plan to have coverage in Orleans County for the different courts led by Punch: Criminal Court, Family Court, Surrogate’s Court and State Supreme Court.

Punch is retiring after 27 years on the bench. Before he was elected judge, he was the county’s district attorney for five years.

James Punch

“Judge Punch is a highly respected judge in the 8th Judicial District and he will be missed,” said Andrew B. Isenberg, the district executive for the District based in Buffalo.

The Honorable Paula L. Feroleto, the District Administrative Judge, will have interim judges serving in Orleans County in the four different courts currently led by Punch.

“She is putting together that plan,” Isenberg said. “I can assure you there will not be a drop in judicial coverage.”

Punch is a “multi-hat” judge, serving in several roles or different courts, which isn’t unusual in a small rural county. Isenberg said the county’s next judge will have to serve in multiple roles.

The 8th Judicial District will have a mentor judge to help Punch’s replacement, and an outside judge will likely handle the Supreme Court cases in the short-term while the new judge gains experience, Isenberg said.

Punch is retiring with about three years left on a 10-year term. The remainder of the term will likely be on the ballot in November.

Ed Morgan, the Orleans County Republican Party chairman, said he has contacted the State Board of Elections and an election law attorney to check for the proper procedures to have a candidate on the ballot in November. The Republican Party made its endorsements on April 27 for county level positions in November.

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