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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 15, 2009

Dems’ Randall seeks 2nd term

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Democrat Denise Randall is seeking a second four-year term as town justice; she was elected for her first term in 2005. Prior to serving as town justice, she was a prosecutor in Guilderland Town Court for almost six years.

Randall graduated from Mount Holyoke College and Albany Law School, and has been practicing law for over 32 years. She has worked for the city of Albany and the State Attorney General’s office, and currently has a private practice on Western Avenue with her husband, Robert. The couple has a daughter, Griffan, 23, and a son, Jordan, 19.

“We are a country that is governed by law, and the law must be applied fairly and impartially,” said Randall. It is her belief that people need to understand that everyone coming to court is treated the exact same way, and personal philosophies and feelings must be left at the door, she said.

“I believe that with every fiber of my being, and strive for that every day,” Randall said.

According to Randall, Guilderland Justice Court closed over 11,000 cases in 2008, and generated almost $900,000 in revenue. Guilderland Justice Court is the third busiest court in Albany County, behind Colonie and Albany, she said.

In order to help relieve court congestion, Randall said she takes two days a month away from her private practice to go to town court and handle suppression hearings related to criminal cases. She said the Guilderland Court has allowed plea bargains by mail since she was a prosecutor, and therefore instituting such a practice, as suggested by her opponent, would be irrelevant.

Similarly, Randall said she would not support the establishment of a court in Crossgates Mall. She said the cost would be staggering, and that Guilderland already has a good courtroom that the citizens paid for.

“Any arrested person is constitutionally presumed innocent, and I have to say that I find it disturbing that a candidate for judge is pre-supposing that any person is automatically guilty, and should not be allowed to drive through town on a public road,” she said, of her Republican opponent, Christopher Aldrich.

Guilderland does not have a youth court, and instituting one would be a town- board decision, said Randall. She said she tries to implement some of the services a youth court would provide, such as increased judicial supervision of first-time, non-violent offenders, and increased use of community service for non-violent offenders.

Randall said community service is something she thinks is beneficial. The Office of Court Administration has shown that increased judicial oversight of certain types of cases does result in better outcomes, and occasionally the combination of counseling and community service is recommended, she said.

“We can follow an individual for a while, and see that a person has really changed their ways — in some cases it works quite well,” said Randall, adding that the cases need to be selected carefully.

“It’s a little more work for the court in the short run. I personally think, if you can break that cycle of behavior, it’s worth the extra effort,” she said.

After serving a four-year term as town judge, Randall said she realizes the importance of practicing impartiality and avoiding conflict of interest. She said any town justice would know a number of people appearing before them in court, and said she and Judge John Bailey are “scrupulous” about recusing themselves from cases where there could be even the slightest hint of a conflict of interest.

“Justice is more than the name of our court, justice is our mandate and justice is our work product,” Randall said.

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