Monday, 07 December 2015 12:47

Oz Legacies: Oswego City Court Judge James Metcalf

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Oswego City Judge James Metcalf and wife Karen Oswego City Judge James Metcalf and wife Karen Submitted photo

His prematurely gray hair says quite a bit about what's under that closely cropped cut. What used to be black specked with white is now almost all white. Jamie has been partially gray since his college days.

And at his core lies a maturity, involving wisdom, that has always extended beyond his years. That deep sense of balance and judgment has been evident about Jamie Metcalf since he was a teenager.

With his recent re-election to a third term as Oswego City Court judge, it is clear that his maturity, judgment and wisdom has served his community well.

Jamie, as his friends call him, is the middle child of four (Ben, Maggie, Jamie and Adam), born to his teachers-for-life parents Jim and Nancy Metcalf of Oak Hill.

His dad was a social studies teacher extraordinaire at Oswego Middle School for many years, and his mom, Nancy (Covell), taught for eons at Fitzhugh Park school.

His wife Karen is also a teacher, as is his younger brother Adam, older brother Ben and sister Maggie. Teaching runs in the family, but Jamie chose law after graduating from BCHS and then LeMoyne.

He attended Syracuse University Law, and interned for two summers with our law firm, then Sullivan and Roman, in the former Columbia Bank building, now Pathfinder Bank, at 34 E. Bridge St.

That's when I first met Jamie almost 30 years ago. He was a second-year law student at SU. I knew his parents, and he was looking for a summer job, so we interviewed him and hired him.

He got married the first summer that he worked for us as an intern. He married Karen Reynolds, a teacher, whose mom was secretary for Mayor Bill Cahill. We celebrated at their wedding, and now, 25 years later, their three children, Katie, Jake and Mariah, are all grown up and two are out of college, and he has been city judge for 20 years. My how time flies.

Over the course of time, Jamie went from intern to law clerk for my former partner and Family Court Judge Dave Roman, to elevation to the city court bench himself.

He also presides part-time as an acting family court judge, and if fate is kind, could be on the ascendency, judicially speaking, to the Supreme Court bench in a few short years. He'd be a good choice for that post.

Jamie is quite tall, as I remind him every time we share a few beers. He is also very athletically talented, and basketball and softball have been his activities of choice, though he can swing a mean golf club, too. Of late, he is an avid fisherman, as well.

But where he wields his gavel to balance the scales of justice, he is most decidedly in his element.

He is no Judge Judy, thankfully.

He is a good listener and generally even tempered, a quality I think he got from his mother, Nancy. He is possessed of an abundance of fair-mindedness, practicality and just plain common sense, which are very important traits for successful jurists.

He also has a keen, quick wit, and a great sense of humor. Jamie is also a pretty good storyteller, and he has lots of stories to tell.

Over the years of our association, Jamie was, at times, a second chair with me in several critical trials. He was a quick study and able assistant. He was in many ways my legal wingman.

In the interests of preserving judicial propriety, I will not repeat those stories here. But if you see him, ask him about the St. Patrick's Day afternoon when he avoided a confrontation with a certain national TV tabloid show by hanging out at the Shacki Patch.

Or ask him to tell you about the time I assigned him to be the photographer for a case which involved an elderly man going into the hospital with pneumonia and coming out with a severely shortened personal appendage. His description of the photo shoot is pretty hilarious.

Another great story involves his best friend, Mike Heagerty, and a memorable boat trip down the Intracoastal to Boca Raton, Fla. He tells that one with great relish.

Jamie Metcalf has apprenticed successfully, and learned a lot. He is now, ironically, the senior city court judge to his former mentor, Dave Roman, who is the assistant city judge. There is some irony there, and more than mild amusement.

But the real story about the ascendancy of Judge James Metcalf is the crucial point. His stock continues to rise, and that's a good thing, a hopeful thing, and I would venture that he's a pretty good bet for higher judicial office sooner rather than later. Why? Because to know Jamie Metcalf is to like him.

He's a loyal son, a good father, a devoted husband and a very good judge. He is someone I am very proud to have had a small part in mentor-ing, and someone in whose success I take great joy. Best of luck to you, Jamie, in your current and future endeavors.

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