"It's just wonderful to have taken over the administrative judgeship in the county," Leach said. "Queens County has a legacy of fine jurists."
Judge Laura Blackburne, of St. Albans, is presiding over the Queens Treatment Court, said Mai Yee, a spokeswoman for the court system.
Leach, of Jamaica Estates, has served in the Supreme Court judiciary in Queens for 11 years. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Queens College and received his law degree from Columbia University.
Leach began his legal career in private practice in Manhattan, before serving as a law assistant to a number of judges around the city. He also worked as a law clerk and secretary to Judge Fritz Alexander, an Appellate Court judge, and later as court attorney for the Appellate Division.
"Justice Leach is a forward-thinking, energetic jurist with a formidable intellect who understands the changing role of the courts in a modern society," said Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman, who announced Leach's appointment. "I have no doubt that he will exercise these essential leadership qualities to the benefit of the court community in Queens and the judicial system as a whole, and I keenly look forward to working with him to that end."
Leach joined the judiciary in 1993 as a Criminal Court judge in Queens. Two years later he was promoted to the position of acting justice for the State Supreme Court, where he was assigned to preside over felony cases.
In 1999 Leach was selected to be the first judge at the Queens Treatment Court, a specialized venue that allows drug-addicted defendants accused of minor drug and other charges to go through a rehabilitation program rather than to serve prison time. The defendants plead guilty to a drug charge and if they do not complete the rehab program, they are sent to jail.
"Justice Leach is a stalwart in New York State's judiciary and highly respected in the Queens legal community, having served 11 years as a judge in that county, with nearly a decade sitting on the Supreme Court bench," Lippman said.
"As a judge," Lippman continued, "he has been at the forefront of innovation in courtroom practice, presiding over the Queens Treatment Court, which has garnered national attention for its special focus on the rehabilitation of drug-addicted defendants and its success in reducing recidivism."
Leach was elected to the State Supreme Court last year, and the Treatment Court is now in the hands of Blackburne.
Many in Queens were pleased to learn of Leach's promotion.
"I know all the work you've done," Borough President Helen Marshall told Leach Tuesday. "I sat beside you in the drug court. I know our courts are in very good hands."
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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