When one decides which professional to consult for medical, legal or financial advice, locating an individual with the requisite experience in the field is often an important consideration. In deciding which Family Court judicial candidate to support, I submit that voters in Dutchess County should consider that same decision-making process. The incumbent, Denise Watson, has spent the past 22 years in Family Court. She served as my court attorney for 12 years and was then elected to succeed me in 2011.

During her 10 years on the bench, Judge Watson has earned a reputation as a hard-working, thoughtful and professional jurist. The nonpartisan Judicial Screening Panel of the Dutchess County Bar Association rated her “highly qualified” as she seeks reelection this year. This is the highest rating available to judicial candidates, and Judge Watson was the only candidate in Dutchess County to receive this accolade in this election cycle.

She has also been endorsed by the New York State Uniform Court Officers, who have had the opportunity to observe her judicial temperament on a daily basis for the past 10 years.

In addition, Judge Watson has presided over two drug treatment courts during her tenure: family and youth treatment courts. These programs give parents who are battling substance-abuse issues the opportunity to regain custody of their children from foster care if they are able to maintain sobriety while under court supervision. Likewise, teens have been able to avoid costly out-of-home placement while engaging in community-based substance abuse treatment, again supervised by the court.

For these reasons, I ask voters to join me in supporting the most experienced and qualified candidate and reelect Family Court Judge Denise Watson.

Peter Forman, Beacon
Forman is a former Dutchess County Court judge.

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Type: Opinion

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