Cortland City Judge Elizabeth Burns, a Democrat, faces Chenango County District Attorney Joe McBride, a Republican for a seat on the state Supreme Court’s 6th District.
The 10-county district includes Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Ostego, Schuyler, Tioga and Tompkins counties. It is a 14-year term or until the judge reaches 70, where judges oversee both civil and criminal matters. Burns is 56; McBride is 60.
Burns grew up in Cortland and received her law degree from SUNY Buffalo. She spent 21 years as an attorney handling Supreme Court civil litigation and appeals. She was a part-time Cortland city court judge for 12 years before she was elected in 2013.
“I mean, yeah city court primarily does criminal on a day-to-day basis but I also handle civil cases, including small claims and we have a civil part where you can file claims up to $15,000,” she said. “So although the amounts are smaller the law is the law is the law. Whether you’re dealing with $10,000 or $100,000 the law doesn’t change based upon the amount, so I still deal with civil law on a regular basis.”
McBride, of Norwich, has been district attorney for 19 years, capping a 35-year criminal justice career. Before that, he worked in a private practice. McBride said he has worked on 2,400 felony cases, more 60 jury trials and prosecuted every homicide case in Chenango County since 1999.
“Before becoming district attorney, I had a very successful private civil Supreme Court practice throughout our area,” McBride said. “Experience as a seasoned litigator in this court should be a prerequisite for all who aspire to hold the position of state Supreme Court justice as it provides the tools necessary to effectively handle and preside over the very serious and personal cases uniquely heard in this forum, while protecting the rights of the litigants.”