By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO It was standing room only in Courtroom No. 1 of the Lawrence H. Cooke Sullivan County Courthouse on Friday afternoon at a portrait presentation and dedication for Honorable Anthony T. Kane.
When he retired in 2009 Judge Kane was the last county resident to hold positions of Supreme Court Justice and Appellate Judge in the Third Judicial District.
Kane’s wife of 43 years, Nancy, sons Mathew and Timothy, daughters-in-law Nadja and Betsy and grandchildren Josefin, 2, and Henry, 5 months, were also present for the honor.
Kane grew up in Westchester County, where his father was involved in the meat business while his mother was a homemaker. After high school, Kane attended Iona College, earning a BA in economics. Kane would subsequently earn his Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School, where he would meet Nancy.
Within a four-month period in 1969, Kane would finish up law school, take and pass the bar exam, marry Nancy, enlist in the United States Army Reserves and move to Sullivan County to accept a job as a staff attorney with the County Legal Services Department.
He would go on to become a partner in the firm of Oppenheim, Drew & Kane. After nine years with the firm, Kane decided to go it alone and began a solo practice. During this time Kane also worked part time as a public defender and town attorney for the Town of Forestburgh.
In 1984 Kane ran for, and was elected as Sullivan County Family Court Judge and would serve as such for seven years. In 1992 he would become Sullivan County Court Judge and Surrogate where he would preside mostly over felony-level criminal cases, as well as the administration of estates. \Starting in 1996 Justice Kane would begin his service to the New York State Supreme Court. He would serve six years at the trial level before being appointed to the Appellate Division in 2002.
Sullivan County Family Court Judge Mark Meddaugh, who was a featured speaker, summed up Kane’s career nicely: “Today we acknowledge the 25 years of service of Judge Kane to the citizens of Sullivan County and the State of New York… I’ve always considered myself as having been blessed for having Judge Kane as my mentor, my colleague and my friend.”
Kane and Meddaugh first became colleagues at Sullivan County Family Court and Meddaugh fondly recalled that period, saying, “We would meet nearly every day to discuss the law, life in general and how to solve the world’s problems.”
New York State Senator John Bonacic, a fellow Iona College alum, was on hand and said of Kane, “Judge Kane was an excellent and compassionate judge, but more importantly, he was a better human being and that’s been reflected by what everyone has said. I’m just here to wish the Judge and his family continued good health, and success in all their endeavors.”
The portrait unveiling honors fell to Hon. Karen Peters Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Third Department.
“For close to half a century, as a resident of Sullivan County, Anthony Kane has been much more than a judge… he’s been a husband to Nancy, an father to Mathew and Tim,” Peters noted. “He coached Little League, he was involved in Hospice, he serves on the fire department and he never stopped giving back to the community he lived in and I hope that that has changed your life in some way, and reminded you how important it is to serve the community we live in… It’s the qualities of service that make him such an extraordinary man.”
After the portrait was unveiled, Kane thanked photographer Michael Gold, with Corporate Image Photography out of New Paltz for “making me look better than in person.”
Kane became emotional when speaking about his family whom he thanked for their support, sacrifice and love, without which he said, “None of this would have been possible.”
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the citizens of this great county and state, to hold up my side of the compact with the public, to work hard, to know the law, to judge fairly and to treat all who came before my court with respect,” added Kane.
Perhaps Meddaugh said it best: “As a mentor Judge Kane led by example and demonstrated that in order to do the job properly, the craft of judging takes hard work and long hours. He showed that the work of a judge is not just a job, but a public trust that has been given to you along with the respect to exercise that trust in a proper and professional manner.”
Sullivan County Bar Association President Michael Mednick opened the special ceremony, calling it an “historic occasion.” Immediate Past S.C. Bar Association President E. Danielle Jose-Decker handled the long list of introductions. In attendance were three of the four candidates for New York State Supreme Court Justice: Hon. E. Michael Kavanagh, Hon. Bernard J. Malone, and the only local candidate, attorney Stephan Schick.
Also in attendance representing Sullivan County were Sheriff Mike Schiff, District Attorney Jim Farrell, as well as his predecessor Stephen F. Lungen, Sullivan County Clerk Dan Briggs, Treasurer Ira Cohen, Commissioner of Jurors George Cooke and County Historian John Conway, among many others.
Representing the County Legislature were Scott B. Samuelson, Eugene L. Benson, Cora A. Edwards and Ira M. Steingart.