Tompkins County Swears In New County Judge

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – After several years, Tompkins County has added a third county judge.

Tompkins last added a judge 50 years ago. Since that time the county population has increased 60 percent.

Democrat Scott Miller said getting a new county judge was a difficult process. It required approval from the state legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Miller takes office amidst significant criminal justice reforms in the state.

After the New Year’s Eve swearing in, Miller said he wouldn’t comment about New York’s new criminal justice reforms until he starts working with them.

However, as an Ithaca city court judge for seven years, Miller got some experience with the recent Raise the Age laws which bar children under eighteen years old from being tried or jailed as adults. The law was phased in over two years ending in October.

Miller said moving 16-and-17 year-olds out of the criminal justice system into the family court system is the right thing to do. He is worried about a lack of space to house detained juvenile defendants.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

Judge Scott Miller (right) with Tompkins County Chairperson, Martha Robertson (left) after his swearing in. Miller is the third county judge in Tompkins County. December 31, 2019. (Photo: Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

“Right now, we haven’t solved that problem,” he said. “That is a really pressing emergency issue.”

“Anything we can do to keep young people out of a detention facility, any lesser restrictive alternative, I’m certainly going to listen to and be supportive of,” Miller added.

He will have the discretion to send a youth defendant home with an ankle monitoring device.

The 2020 state budget allocates more money to localities to cover costs, like housing, associated with the new law.