On Jan. 20, Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran announced his candidacy for New York State Supreme Court Justice of the Seventh Judicial District.
The NYS Supreme Court is a court of general jurisdiction, "otherwise known as a court that can do anything," Moran said. There are no limitations to the kinds of cases the court can handle.
Most counties in New York have their own supreme court, but the less populous counties are grouped into districts that elect judges. The Seventh Judicial District includes Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne and Yates Counties.
There are currently two district Supreme Court seats open for November's election. Justice Nancy Smith is coming to the end of her first 14-year term and will be running for re-election. Justice Francis Affronti will be turning 70 and retiring.
Although a justice may be certified for three additional two-year terms upon turning 70, Affronti does not intend to run again. Moran will be running for Affronti's open seat.
Moran has been involved in the Livingston County justice system since he was a student taking classes at Geneseo while working as deputy sheriff. He graduated cum laude from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1981, continuing his career as an officer until his graduation from Syracuse University College of Law in 1984.
Moran went on to work as a lawyer and assistant district attorney. He was elected district attorney of Livingston County in 1993.
Since he took the position nearly 19 years ago, Moran has made a number of changes. When he first took the position, most of the employees in the office were only part-time, a factor that made progress difficult and unprofessional. Today nearly all employees work full time and one person is able to help a victim all the way through the trauma. "We've brought the office up to a very professional level," Moran said.
"We've become much more victim-based," he said. "Our focus isn't about prosecuting the defendant, but about taking care of the victim."
Since his start as deputy sheriff, Moran said he has been taking care of victims, whether it's knocking on parents' doors at 3 a.m. with bad news or sitting overnight in the hospital with victims of sexual assault.
"I think that's the kind of experience that would be beneficial," he said. "A judge needs to be able to make a decision and understand people's real life problems … I've been making difficult decisions since I was 19 and I've seen people's problems first hand."
Moran has only good things to say about his time as DA.
"This has been a very good job for me," he said. "Every day you go to work for one obligation: do the right thing for the right reason, and that's a good reason to go … I've enjoyed it, but I don't want to get burned out and I want a new challenge."