The latest chatter to coming from
the courthouse – as well as from some political operatives – is that Surrogate Court
Judge Christian Hummel will be a federal magistrate once he clears a background
check by the FBI.
According to Judgepedia – a
website similar to Wikipedia except it provides info on just judges which I
happened across after I Googled Hummel’s name for some background – Hummel was an
East Greenbush judge from 1986 to 1992, a Rensselaer County Family Court judge
from 1993 to 2001 and has been a judge on the Surrogate Court since 2002.
The Republican is a pretty popular
guy on both sides of the aisle and last year won his re-election bid with 99.8
percent of the vote. Of course, it helped that the Democrats didn’t put anyone
up against him but there’s probably good reason for that. Though, while he does
work as an acting judge on the Supreme Court, he was snubbed for a full time gig in the
more high profile spot in 2005.
Anyway, according to the FederalMagistrate Judges Association website – another website and association I’ve
never heard of but stumbled upon thanks to Google – Hummel was appointed by “the
life-tenured federal judges of a district court” and will serve an eight-year
stint once the FBI completes its background check. A magistrate makes $155,000
Since I’m guessing Hummel’s background
is just like the squeaky-clean persona he projects he’s a shoe-in for the
magistrate’s job. The question on the minds of the attorneys, other lower level
judges and operatives who run their campaigns now is when he will step down.
According to Rensselaer County Board
of Elections, if Hummel steps down before Sept. 20 there will be an election
this November for the seat. If it happens after that date, there won’t be an
election until November 2013 and Gov. Andrew Cuomo can appoint a judge until
the winner of that election takes the bench in January, 2014. There is nearly no chance of the FBI clearing
Hummel before petitions are due on July 12, and if he steps down between then
and Sept. 20, the individual party’s rules determine who its candidates will be
There are some other nuances in the
mix, but the key date is Sept. 20. If he steps down before then there will be an
election this November. After that date and it won’t happen until 2013.
Hummel could not be reached for comment.