Oswego grateful for Judge James McCarthy’s service

Judge James McCarthy

I first met The Hon. Judge James McCarthy when he was a struggling young lawyer, just out of law school. I was working for the Conway and Shanley law firm at the time and was also the County Democratic Chair at the ripe old age of 27, so it was my job to recruit candidates for public office. I encouraged Jim to run for the state Assembly in 1977 as a Democrat. As a young attorney, running for office, even if you lose, is a good way to increase your public profile. He lost, but conducted a fine campaign. He worked briefly for John Cullinan, then got a job with Walter Batchelor, a venerable older attorney who needed help. Jim worked with him for several years before being recruited to change political parties, and join Bill Cahill’s administration as Assistant City Attorney and later as City Attorney after Doren Norfleet left.

Although I was not thrilled with his party choice, I understood that it was a sensible choice for an attorney living in Oswego County to make. Our paths often crossed in private practice, and then, after I had run for Mayor, the City Judge, Frank Klinger, resigned to become a Social Security Administrative Law Judge, and Jim became the Republican’s choice to succeed him. There was no Democratic candidate, and the post was vacant, so I appointed him to fill the vacancy until his own term began. A long and distinguished judicial career then ensued.

I have known Jim’s wife, Polly, for over 50 years. She grew up on Governeur Street, near the Forks of the Road. Her father was John Kingston, distinguished professor of theatre arts, and her mother, Ursula was a teacher. The McCarthys went on to raise four children in their stately home across from Montcalm Park. Brendan, Christopher, Meghan and Christopher, and they now have three grandchildren. Two of their children even went on to become lawyers.

Polly served for over a dozen years on the Oswego City School Board. She and Jim try to take at least two international trips a year, most recently they visited Egypt.

Jim is a member of the Elks and Hibernians, and even holds a black belt in karate. He recently retired as a State Supreme Court Judge after many years of service. He was recently honored by being chosen to serve on the Statewide committee that oversees public integrity investigations, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a 13-person group named by the governor and state legislative leaders, to oversee lobbying and public ethics in New York.

Best of luck to you, Jim, on your new endeavor. We in New York are fortunate that you found a way to continue your public service into your retirement years.

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