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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 15, 2009

GOP’s Aldrich makes first run

By Anne Hayden

After practicing law for 23 years, including seven years in Albany County, Christopher Aldrich is making his first run for town judge on the Republican ticket.

Aldrich graduated from Union College with a degree in psychology, and then graduated from Hofstra University with his law degree in 1986. He started working in the Nassau County Court District shortly after graduation, where he eventually became supervisor for a law department of 26 judges.

In 2002, Aldrich moved to Guilderland, along with his wife, two daughters, and two stepdaughters. He has worked for the past seven years in Albany City Court, as a court attorney for five judges. Aldrich said he splits his time between traffic court and criminal court.

“The best judges are the ones that stick to the letter of the law,” said Aldrich of his judicial beliefs. Some judges take on a legislative role and rule according to their feelings, said Aldrich, but he said he follows the law as it is in New York State, and does not let his personal preferences enter the courtroom.

Working in the busiest court system in the county has given Aldrich several ideas for reform in Guilderland, many of which he feels would help resolve the over-crowding that led the town board to approve appointment of a third judge, pending approval from the State Legislature.

“I really believe one of the main things that can be done is to allow attorneys to plea-bargain traffic tickets through mail and by phone,” said Aldrich, something his opponent said is already in practice. In addition to reducing the attendance in traffic court by half, Aldrich said, plea bargains by phone or mail would benefit the police department by reducing overtime, since an officer would not have to show up in court for a traffic ticket.

Rather than stagger court appearance times, Aldrich said he would give an estimated time for traffic court to be finished, which would free up time for criminal hearings.

Additionally, Aldrich said he thinks congestion would be significantly reduced if a court were established in Crossgates Mall, specifically for perpetrators of petit larceny.

“The mall is on one end of town, while Town Hall is on the other. Basically, we are demanding that the defendants drive through town to come to court, when they may not be familiar with our town — and I don’t think I want them to be familiar with our town,” said Aldrich. He said a court in the mall would make sense, because of the police station already established there, and a majority of those arrested for petit larceny are from outside the town.

Although there is currently no youth court in Guilderland, Aldrich said he would support one. According to Aldrich, a youth court is a good alternative for young people who are arrested for a wide range of petty offenses. Rather than go through the traditional court process, Aldrich said he would assign counseling or community service, and have the crime dismissed so it would not appear on a young person’s record.

Community service as part of a sentence, in general, is something Aldrich said he supports.

“Community service is great for smaller crimes, for multiple reasons,” Aldrich said. He said community service can make a defendant think about what he did, and help him feel good about himself.

Aldrich said that he is committed to serving the community. He is a very active member of Christ’s Church of the Capital District, where his wife serves as youth pastor. Aldrich organizes opportunities for citizens to volunteer throughout the community. Four Sundays a year, he helps with a program called “church has left the building,” when parishioners go out and serve the community during the time when a church service would normally be held. In addition to the church, Aldrich said he is active with the YMCA, and the Capital City Rescue Mission in Albany.

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