The judicial landscape in Liverpool is about to change.
In the towns of Clay and Salina, two longtime judges opted to retire instead of seeking new terms. In Clay, John Hall acted as town justice for 25 years; in Salina, Herman Harding sat on the bench for 36 years. Both decided it was time to step down.
“I thought it was time to start cutting back on my workload and let somebody else have a chance to be the judge,” Hall said. “It’s time to bring a fresh perspective to the job.”
Hall, a lifelong resident of North Syracuse, started on the bench in 1982. Before that, his father, Richard Hall, served as Clay town justice for 16 years from 1960 to 1976.
In the time that he’s been judge, Hall said the growth of the town has certainly been visible.
“The volume of the work has changed,” he said. “And not just because the population jumped from 48,000 to around 58,000. All of the stores and businesses that came up on Route 31 [had an effect] — you see a lot of petit larcenies and traffic charges.”
Hall said he thoroughly enjoyed his time as a judge.
“It was very interesting,” he said. “I got to see a side of life you’d never see if you’re not a judge. It makes you appreciate people more.”
Hall said he wouldn’t miss the late-night calls from police.
“I will get a lot more sleep at night,” he said.
Harding echoed those sentiments.
“Regrettably, criminals work the night shift,” Harding said. “A large part of a town justice’s responsibility is to be available to the police agencies seeking to arraign defendants and protect victims.”
Harding was always available, he said, having received the Sheriff John Harris Award from the Deputy Sheriffs’ Benevolent Association “principally for answering the phone when they called.”
Both magistrates had kind words to say of the police agencies with which they worked over the years.
“I think the Clay police department is a great police department,” Hall said. “They’re well-trained, and the younger officers are very enthusiastic and want to do a good job. They’re very conscientious. I’ve seen them bend over backwards and take a lot of guff from defendants and not respond.”
While they’re stepping down from the town benches, both Hall and Harding will still practice law, Hall with Hall and Martin Law Offices with Patrick Martin and Brian Lauri in the village of North Syracuse, and Harding with Liverpool Law Office with Peter Talev and Richard Spatari in the village of Liverpool. Lauri will replace Hall on the Clay bench, while the Salina town justice race is still being contested
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club’s Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.