International role appeals to retiring judge

Kingston Daily Freeman, NY
March 24 2004

International role appeals to retiring judge

By Hallie Arnold , Freeman staff 03/24/2004

KINGSTON – Ulster County Surrogate’s Court Judge Joseph J.
Traficanti Jr., who rose from his early days as a local attorney to
become a state deputy chief administrative judge and statewide
director of drug treatment court programs, says he will leave the
bench in May to help developing countries build judicial systems.

“When I took over management of drug courts in New York state, I
began to see how you can really see results when you help people at
that level,” Traficanti, 61, said Tuesday. “I thought I could help
make a contribution to people in the developing world, and help
modernize their judicial system. A judicial system is essential to
any democracy to survive.”

Early on, Traficanti worked for the town of Rochester, the Accord
Fire District, and the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office. He
was elected Surrogate’s Court judge in 1982. In 1991, he was
appointed deputy chief administrative judge for courts outside New
York City, overseeing operations in 57 counties. In 2000, he became
the state’s first director of drug treatment court programs.

“Judge Traficanti was entrusted with the critical responsibility of
providing centralized direction for the statewide rollout of New
York’s landmark court-mandated drug treatment initiative,” Judith
Kaye, chief judge of the state Court of Appeals, said in a prepared
statement. “He served admirably in this regard, overseeing the
implementation of a new protocol in which all criminal cases would be
screened for substance abuse, as well as the establishment of drug
courts in jurisdictions across the state.”

Traficanti plans to pursue a career as an independent international
legal consultant. He’ll first travel to Russia for 10 days, lecturing
on commercial courts, small claims, arbitration and mediation for the
U.S. Agency for International Development.

Shortly after that, he’ll set off on the first of several trips to
Armenia over the course of a year to analyze and recommend
improvements to court operations.

“It’s bittersweet, in a way,” Traficanti said of leaving the bench.
“I’ve worked for the best chief judge. It’s been a terrific job, and
a wonderful job. Some people would think I’m crazy to leave. But the
time comes in life when you need to climb another mountain.”

Traficanti’s two state posts will be filled by appointment by Chief
Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman. The post of Ulster County
Surrogate’s Court judge will be filled in the November election.