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Watertown attorney Sovie announces candidacy for Jefferson County Family Court judge

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Watertown native Susan A. Sovie announced Monday that she is a candidate for Jefferson County Family Court judge.

Speaking at the refurbished Masonic Temple Building, where she began her law career, Ms. Sovie, a Democrat, said the announcement represented a “full circle” for her.

“At the ripe old age of 10, wearing a purple shirt and jeans, I stood in my driveway proclaiming that I was going to be a lawyer for children,” she told family, friends and supporters. “I never once wavered from that goal, which I attained 15 years later in 1995.”

The 1987 Watertown High School graduate said she has dedicated her life to representing children and adults in custody, visitation, adoption, abuse, neglect, juvenile delinquency and Person in Need of Supervision proceedings. She has appeared thousands of time in Family Court, winning numerous trials, including two adoption cases that were upheld at the appellate level and are now case law precedents.

In 1996, she was nominated by retiring Family Court Judge Richard V. Hunt to be the county’s Attorneys for Children program liaison for the state’s Fourth Department, a volunteer position she continues to hold, advising and assisting about 35 attorneys representing children.

She is the only attorney in Jefferson County ever to receive the Fourth Department’s Michael F. Dillon Law Guardian Award for outstanding representation of children, having been nominated for the award in 1998 by Surrogate Court Judge Peter A. Schwerzmann. She also was nominated for the award in 2001 by Judge Hunt. She is also the only Attorney for Children who has been trained to do Jefferson County Family Treatment Court, a specialized court for parents who have neglected children because of substance abuse issues.

A graduate of Hartwick College, Oneonta, and Syracuse University College of Law, Ms. Sovie was a founding board member and former board chairwoman of the county’s now-defunct Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, is a member of the state’s Fifth Judicial District’s attorney grievance committee and is on the board of the state’s Office of Indigent Legal Services, among other community involvement.

“It takes compassion, patience, knowledge, dedication, education and hard work to be the Jefferson County Family Court judge,” Ms. Sovie said. “I possess all of the qualities and much, much more.”

In his introductory remarks, retired County Judge Lee Clary noted that Family Court is the busiest court in the county, but said that Ms. Sovie “has an outstanding work ethic and will handle the workload.” He also said Family Court can involve “extremely sensitive” issues, but Ms. Sovie “has always demonstrated a real passion for representing children caught in these tough situations.”

“Sue Sovie has the ability and wisdom to make these tough calls,” he said.

Republican Timothy L. Virkler, Watertown, law clerk to Judge Schwerzmann, will announce he is running for Family Court judge at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Jefferson Room at the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 300 Washington St. Fellow Republicans Eugene J. Langone Jr., Watertown, and Kathy L. Quencer, Brownville, also have expressed interest in the seat.

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