Gilbert Retires After 40 Years On The Bench

Gilbert Retires After 40 Years On The Bench

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The Hon. Hugh Gilbert was sworn in as state Supreme Court Justice of the 5th Judicial District in 1989, a job he's held for 28 years.

Gilbert has been working primarily out of a courtroom in the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown.

And now he's retiring.

He's handled civil cases, such as lawsuits from somebody slipping or falling to someone suing a city or town. 

Over the years, a lot of the issues haven't changed, but other things have. While Gilbert still looks up laws by hitting the books, he's started using a computer this year..

"You might say in the last year, I might have entered the 21st century, yes," he said.

It was an ambitious task for the Carthage native, who at the end of the month has to retire at the age of 76, because he will have officially passed the extended age requirement for the job..

For the last few years he's been an administrative judge, traveling to the Syracuse area and other parts of the state.

He's says a few challenges are traveling to different places and juggling the personalities o who walk into the courts also, of course, the snowy drives down I-81.

"If you could see car lights come the other way," he said, "it was okay because they're getting through, you'll be able to get through also."

Little by little, the judge has been cleaning out his office, taking home the gavel he's used since his first judge position 40 years ago..

"When I walk into this courtroom for the last time, obviously I'm going to leave a lot of good memories behind," he said, "but I'm also going to have the finality that when i walk out, I do walk out -- that may take a day or two to get use to that.."

Gilbert says he plans to spend his retirement with family, helping charities, and writing a book.

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