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By Arthur Gonick
BALLSTON SPA – Stating that: “he couldn’t leave anything to chance” James A. Murphy, who will be unopposed in November’s election for Saratoga County Judge, announced that he was resigndising his position early as Saratoga County District Attorney – a position he has held for over fourteen years.
The resignation, by letter to Governor Cuomo, took effect on Thursday, September 18, at 5 p.m.
Because he has resigned before September 20, by statute Murphy forfeits the remainder of his salary, benefits and health coverage immediately. But the nearly 30 “at will” employees of the DA’s Office would retain their positions and the cases would continue without turnover in prosecutors assigned. Murphy cited these as the two main factors in reaching his decision. “I have worked for 27 years with these people,” Murphy said. “They have built strong relationships with the people involved with their cases, with the victims, the police, the community.”
Murphy’s DA term runs through November of 2015. So, had he stayed on until the end of this year, it would fall to the Governor to appoint a DA after Murphy takes the bench (which is a certainty as Murphy is unopposed for the County Court seat being vacated by Judge Jerry J. Scarano in this November's election).
In that scenario, Murphy stated that he felt the strong possibility existed that the appointed DA would then remove the 21 Assistant DAs, the 5 investigators and 2 secretaries, since they are all “at will” employees and serve “at the pleasure of the DA.” The more than 500 felony indictments pending would then see a turnover in the prosecutor assigned to the case and victims would then be introduced to new prosecutors. Further, A second turnover could occur depending upon the results of the November 2015 election, which would result in more difficulty in the prosecution of cases going forward.
With the resignation, First Assistant DA Karen Heggen would become Acting DA until the election this November, when there would be an election for DA for a full four-year term. Murphy has recommended Heggen to be endorsed by all political parties, praising her work ethic and acumen.
Given the short time frame between now and election day, a strong possibility exists that Heggen will be endorsed by all parties, or at the very least run unopposed, continuing a tradition established of non-partisanship by James A. Murphy III since taking the Saratoga County DA office reins.
Will Seek County Judgeship
BALLSTON SPA – Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III is formally announcing his intention to run for Saratoga County Court Judge next Election Day, November 4.
Murphy will make his official announcement at a press conference that is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Friday, February 14 at the Saratoga Springs Holiday Inn.
“I love this office.” Murphy said, when reached by phone, referring to his 5-term tenure as county DA. He is beginning his 17th year in 2014. “But it’s time for some new challenges.”
DA Murphy will be seeking the judgeship that will be vacated by Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry Scarano. Judge Scarano will be concluding his second 10-year term at the end of 2014. As Judge Scarano has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, the Board of Elections had already scheduled an election for this post and so a special election will not be needed.
DA Murphy had great praise for Judge Scarano, who he had worked with in various capacities over 26 years.
“When I began as an Assistant DA, Jerry was First Assistant DA. Later when he moved to the bench, he has been the one who handled all the big cases, the felonies throughout my term as DA. Judge Scarano set a standard that I hope to maintain.” Murphy said.
Murphy has run unopposed for all 5 elections to the District Attorney’s office, receiving endorsements from the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties. He indicated that he would seek multiple party endorsements for the coming county judge run. “The Saratoga County Court Judge, like the County District Attorney office, is not political. We serve everyone.”
Interestingly, should James Murphy III successfully win the County Court Judge race in November, the code of judicial ethics and conduct would go into effect immediately— thereby preventing him from either recommending or endorsing his successor.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A Saratoga Springs man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for rape in the first degree as well as one to three years for damaging 15 gas tanks on vehicles and three years for attempting to burglarize a house in Halfmoon.