Law practice has always been a part of full-time City Court Judge candidate William J. Mycek’s life. His memories of growing up include his father and grandfather discussing law issues at family dinners. After graduating from college, he gave himself a chance to see if he wanted to do something else, but quickly discovered the path he wanted to take was to carry on the family tradition.
During an interview last week, Mycek recalled growing up on Hibbard Street and Mc Gibbon Street in Amsterdam. After graduating from Amsterdam High School in 1999, he went on to receive his undergraduate degree from the University at Albany. After taking a year off from school to explore different career options, he decided to continue on in the law field and went on to receive his Juris Doctorate degree from Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, PA.
Mycek said that returning to Amsterdam was a natural choice for him. “I always thought of Amsterdam as my home, I never really let it go…it’s my hometown,” he said.
Mycek joined the family practice in 2007. Mycek’s grandfather, John J. Mycek, started practicing law in the city in 1952 and was formerly the Surrogate Court Judge for Montgomery County. His father William H. Mycek started practicing in 1982.
Starting out, Mycek said he was expecting to focus on general practice. However, he was soon offered a position as Assistant District Attorney for Montgomery County, which he accepted and has held since 2007.
“Since law school, I don’t think I expected myself to be in court that much,” said Mycek. “As a general practitioner, you’re in court every once in a while, but you’re not in court all the time. Now that I’ve done it so much, I want to be in court all the time, that’s where I want to be.”
As an assistant district attorney, Mycek was first assigned to the city court, and got his first jury trial within a few months of taking the job.
“I cut my teeth in city court under [Judge] Howard Aison. And he’s not a forgiving guy,” said Mycek with a laugh. “He showed me the way, for better or worse.”
According to Mycek, he has worked on over 8,000 criminal and violation cases and over 18,000 traffic cases.
“Everyone’s case is important,” said Mycek. However, he said it’s the criminal cases, such as vandalism and theft, that have the biggest impact on the community and require the deepest consideration as far as sentencing.
“You send somebody to county jail for two years, that changes their life,” said Mycek. “Send somebody to county jail for a weekend and that changes their life.”
“As a judge you really have to evaluate every case on the facts. To come in there and say I’m going to be tough on this, or I’m going to be tough on that would really be improper,” said Mycek. “First time offenders, people who really haven’t been in trouble before, who made a mistake, you show some compassion to those people.”
“Versus people who have been there a half a dozen times, those cases are going to be a little more difficult. You certainly have to judge a case on the facts, but it’s going to be difficult to reason why they should get a break again.”
Mycek also noted landlord-tenant disputes as an area where the emotions of those involved can run high.
“If you are a landlord in Amsterdam or a tenant in Amsterdam, those are usually tough cases because you’re dealing with someone’s home, and people are very passionate about that,” said Mycek.
“We have a lot of absentee landlords in this town,” said Mycek. “So we get a lot of arguments like – he’s not doing anything – look at the yard, look at the house, it’s falling apart. I’m still paying my rent and now he wants to kick me out because I want him to fix something.”
Mycek said that there is a difference between a tenant complaining about a minor issues, such as a light not working, and major issues like broken windows or heating systems.
He also added that a judge needs to take extra care that the correct legal procedures have been followed in disputes between landlords and tenants because often times neither party hires a lawyer.
“Jurisdiction over the case is really important, to get the case in there properly,” said Mycek.
In addition to his private practice and work as an assistant district attorney, Mycek’s work experience also includes serving as the attorney for the Town of Charleston, Assistant Attorney for Montgomery County Department of Social Services, and as Examiner of Guardianship Accounts for Montgomery County.
As part of the Amsterdam community, Mycek said he sees the problem of blight in the neighborhoods as well as the issue of younger generations not wanting to stay in the city. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic about the city’s future.
“I’m one of the only ones, I think, who sees a lot of potential in Amsterdam left,” he said with a laugh.
For his part, Mycek said he has purchased and renovated two city properties, one of which he currently resides at with his wife Sarah and his daughter on Division Street. He said he has also purchased a third property which he plans to renovate as well.
Mycek also volunteers his time as a board member for the Amsterdam Free Library and Carmel’s Diner Inc.
“I’ve got the skills, I’ve got the experience now. I’m dedicated to the job, I’m a hard worker. So I think I’d be a great judge, and I’m going to try to be the best judge I can,” said Mycek.
Mycek is running on the Republican and Conservative party lines, and will face candidate Lisa Lorman on a primary for those lines on September 10. Gerard DeCusatis is also running for the position on the Democratic and Green party lines and will also face Lorman in a primary on those lines on September 10.