As a resident of the city for 28 years, full-time City Court Judge candidate Lisa Lorman says she has experienced the ups and downs of living and working in Amsterdam. That experience, along with 26 years of practicing law and 8 years serving as the city’s part-time City Court Judge, are all part of the reason she believes she’s the best choice to fill the full-time judicial position.
In an interview last week, Lorman recalled how she and her husband William, who she met in law school, ended up settling down in Amsterdam and forming a law firm together, Lorman Law Firm, PC.
After receiving her Juris Doctor degree from Albany Law School of Union University in 1988, she soon found part-time work in the city as the Assistant Corporation Council and where she served with former mayors Paul Parillo and Mario Villa. Her husband also found work with local attorney Paul Wollman. Lorman said the move made sense for both her family and her career.
“At that point we had already started our family, and I was working for a firm in Schenectady, but I had two little kids. And I was struggling with back and forth – picking up the kids, getting them to their activities. So it just made sense for us to be here in Amsterdam,” said Lorman.
Lorman said they found an affordable first home on Phillips Street and have enjoying being part of the community ever since. Residing on Northampton road now, she currently volunteers her time on the board of directors for both the Montgomery County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery County.
While her two children were in school, Lorman recalled getting involved with coaching the High School Mock Court Competition, where students take on the role of attorneys and witnesses in a mock court trial and are scored as a team on their knowledge of the case and their presentation. Even though her children are grown now, she continues to be involved in coordinating the event with the Montgomery County Bar Association.
Lorman said she has encountered colleagues who don’t share her enthusiasm for Amsterdam.
“They don’t really understand how great a place it really is,” said Lorman. However she said that once they visit, and experience the community first hand, they get the “real feel” of the city.
Lorman said she also sees the challenges that the city faces, in terms of the loss of businesses over the decades and with the effects of crime in the city.
“We feel the same pain that a lot of people do from Amsterdam,” she said.
According to Lorman, both her firm’s building on Guy Park Avenue, and her car has been broken into in the past.
In regards to the impact of crime on a victim, Lorman said that when deciding cases, “I always try to take that into consideration, as to how that affects people.”
As part-time attorney for the Montgomery County Department of Social Services, Lorman says she also sees first-hand the condition of families who are struggling in the city.
“Most recently I’ve been doing abuse and neglect cases. I see how many families operate, the poverty and the drug use. I’m very familiar with that and how it affects people,” said Lorman.
Lorman cited heroin use as a growing problem in the city that cuts across all cultural and income demographics.
“We do seem to have some really serious drug addiction issues in this city for sure. I don’t think Amsterdam is alone in that. The heroine epidemic, and other crimes are really serious concerns,” she said and added, “It’s people from all walks of life.”
Evictions, known as “summary proceedings,” are another important type of case that comes before the city judges.
“You’d be surprised, how many summary proceedings come through our courts for tenants that move from one place to another, don’t pay rent here, don’t pay rent there. We have so many landlords from out of the area…I think people would be surprised to about how poor some of our housing is,” said Lorman.
In regards to the time she’s spent as the part-time City Court Judge, Lorman said, “I really enjoy it actually.”
She said that serving as judge and handling the busy schedule of small claims cases, traffic tickets and other misdemeanor cases has given her a sense of what is really going on in the city.
“The people, to work with, the attorneys and staff are really great there,” she added.
In regards to handling cases, Lorman said, “I try to look at the facts and circumstances. I listen to what the attorneys have to say. I listen to what the defense council has to say with the [District Attorney] and try to take it into consideration.”
However, staying objective is a key part of the job. “I don’t get too riled up by people or attorneys,” said Lorman.
“I understand how serious the decisions are that I have to make,” said Lorman. “Even though it might be just a misdemeanor crime, when you take someone’s liberties away and you’re going to send them to jail, I think you really have to give it a lot of consideration. I try to listen to both sides and be fair.”
Lorman is running on the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Green party lines. She faces primary challenges from candidates William Mycek on the Republican and Conservative lines, and Gerard DeCusatis on the Democratic and Green lines on September 10.