St. Lawrence Co. judge takes medical leave

Storie. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — As the state Unified Court System enters its third week of fully resumed operations, St. Lawrence County Court is short a judge.

Judge Gregory P. Storie, who was elected in November to a 10-year term overseeing county criminal court, is out on medical leave. A spokesperson for the state UCS on Friday confirmed Judge Storie’s case inventory is being reassigned to other judges in the Fourth Judicial District by District Administrative Judge Felix J. Catena.

The Fourth Judicial District is the state’s largest of the 13 judicial districts by land area and covers 11 counties: St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington.

Prior to his medical leave this week, Judge Storie was participating in training in Schenectady County Court “for further familiarization with various policies and procedures,” according to the UCS.

For roughly a year after the February 2020 retirement of Judge Jerome J. Richards and before Judge Storie was sworn in, county criminal cases were rotated between judges from the district, and daily proceedings were typically handled by county Surrogate Court Judge John F. Richey.

The statewide pandemic pause of in-person court operations has been gradually lifted over the last year, and courts returned to full, in-person staffing on May 24.

In a video message Monday, the state’s Chief Judge Janet M. DiFiore said the UCS has “come a long, long way” since last Memorial Day.

“Since then, we have successfully navigated the ups and downs of the pandemic by working together, staying united and being disciplined — yet flexible — in our approach to fulfilling our mission and our responsibilities,” she said. “And now, a year later, we are back in our courthouses, ready to meet the challenges that lie ahead, and ready to resume the significant progress we were making under the Excellence Initiative to improve the efficiency of court operations and the quality of judicial decision making throughout the state.”

Judge DiFiore launched the Excellence Initiative in 2016, after being sworn in to the chief role. The initiative’s goal is to “improve the courts’ ability to ensure the just and expeditious resolution of all matters.” Year-end reports are viewable on the UCS website, at nycourts.gov/excellence-initiative.

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