Letter to the Editor and fellow Ulster County residents,
For 20 years, I served as Town Justice in the Town of Ulster. Before that, I was an Assistant District Attorney for 13 years. During those years, I had many opportunities to work with both candidates currently running for Ulster County District Attorney. It is with this background in mind that I offer my whole-hearted endorsement to Michael Kavanagh for DA.
Michael is an experienced attorney who appeared before me frequently in the Town of Ulster Court. At all times, he was a consummate professional, well- versed in the law and a powerful advocate for his clients. He exhibited intelligence, compassion and an understanding of the complex issues we struggle with in our criminal courts on a daily basis, including crimes involving alcohol and drug addiction and domestic violence.
There are several factors that I think are necessary to be a successful District Attorney. Foremost among these is leadership. Most DA’s offices are staffed by relatively new attorneys and the office serves as a training ground for future litigators. These young attorneys need guidance and support and it must come from the top down. Under the current administration, this critical element has been missing with the result that prosecutions have not been properly evaluated nor have they been pursued in a timely manner. When I was a young prosecutor in the DA’s office, Michael’s father, E. Michael Kavanagh, stressed training both for members of the office as well as the police agencies that serve Ulster County. It was not unusual for him to sit down with a prosecutor to review trial strategies and offer suggestions. I believe that Michael will be that kind of hands-on District Attorney and that he will forge a new office where his staff receives the guidance that it needs.
Another critical factor in choosing a District Attorney involves the candidate’s ability to work cooperatively with the various law enforcement agencies that serve Ulster County. A good working relationship between the DA’s office and the police community depends upon mutual trust and respect. To date, every police agency and/or union that endorses candidates has endorsed Michael over his adversary. Surely, this speaks highly of the esteem in which they hold him and their understanding that he is the right person to lead the prosecutor’s office.
Lastly, morale within the office is the final component for a successful DA’s office. When I was a member of the DA’s office, it was a great place to work. We all worked hard, we worked collaboratively and we were proud to be at the vanguard of the criminal justice system responsible for safeguarding our community. Under the current administration, morale has been abysmal. Defections from the office are rampant and chaos seems to rule. During my last three years as the Town of Ulster Justice, I was assigned no fewer than 10 different prosecutors. There was no continuity of justice and time was frequently lost as new prosecutors had to get up to speed on hundreds of cases. Motions to dismiss cases for failure to comply with the State’s speedy trial rules were commonplace. It was not unusual for the DA’s office to reduce felony charges to misdemeanors, where they could be dismissed without attracting unflattering attention from the media.
The current DA’s office is in crisis. Continuing the same administration with the old players will not resolve the issues that have plagued the office for the past four years. Michael Kavanagh offers leadership, integrity and an unwavering commitment to restore the DA’s office to one in which professionalism is the foundation and confidence in the justice system is the result.
Please vote for Michael Kavanagh in November!