Fred Stabbert III | Democrat
JUDGE ROBERT C. WILLIAMS (center, holding paper) awaits the start of the ceremony to name the Family Court in his honor on Friday.
Family Court named in honor of Williams
By Fred Stabbert III
MONTICELLO It was a veritable who’s who of the legal and law enforcement community who attended Friday afternoon’s tribute to the Hon. Robert C. Williams.
Judges, attorneys, friends and family filled the entrance to the annex of the Sullivan County Government Center to watch the Sullivan County Family Court dedicated in honor of a man who has been an attorney for 55 years and was the first Sullivan County Family Court Judge in 1969.
It was also a fitting time to say “thank you” to a native son for his service to his country and his more than four decades of public service to the residents of Sullivan County and the state of New York.
The Hon. Anthony T. Kane, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, said he came to Sullivan County 39 years ago, fresh out of law school.
“The first judge I appeared before as a lawyer was Family Court Judge Robert C. Williams,” Judge Kane recalled. “To say that I was nervous would be a gross understatement. The Judge welcomed me, tolerated my clumsiness and offered guidance.”
Judge Williams’ mentoring eventually led Kane to the judiciary, where he first served as Family Court Justice before moving up to Sullivan County Judge and eventually taking Judge Williams’ place on the New York State Supreme Court.
“It was Judge Williams who, 13 years ago, stepped aside and retired before the end of his elected term, from a job that he loved, so I that I could succeed him to his position as a Supreme Court Justice,” Judge Kane said to a loud applause. “I believe he made this decision to retire in part in an attempt to ensure that there would be an elected resident Sullivan County Supreme Court Justice to succeed him for 14 years.”
It was this selfless devotion that earned Judge Williams the highest praise.
District Attorney Stephen Lungen said, “He is the personification of what a juror should be…true to the law.
“There is always fairness and justice in his courtroom,” Lungen said. “This honor today shows how much the legal community cares about him.”
Family Court Judge Mark Meddaugh recalled how much the court in which Judge Williams first served had changed.
“Family Court has done away with the typewriters and carbon paper,” he said. “Today we have a staff of 20 people and use digital recording.”
Meddaugh said that 5,000 cases come before the Sullivan County Family Court each and every year affecting 10,000 people.
“We could always use a little extra help,” Meddaugh quipped.
Later in the ceremony, Judge Williams pledged to return to the Family Court next summer as a volunteer to help Judge Meddaugh in any way he could.
“Thank you to each and every person for being here,” he said. “And to my wife, Dorothy, thank you for helping me so much.”