PORT JERVIS – Port Jervis City Court Judge James M. Hendry has announced his candidacy for Orange County Surrogate’s Court Judge in the 9th Judicial District of New York.
If elected, Hendry will fill the seat left open by sitting Orange County Surrogate Robert A. Onofry, who is nearing the New York State mandatory retirement age. Like Judge Hendry, Judge Onofry is a long-time Port Jervis resident; he served as Port Jervis City Court judge for 12 years before being elected to his current position in 2008.
Hendry is also a practicing attorney with over 15 years experience.
He serves on the Attorneys For Children panel representing the interests of children in Family Court proceedings. Prior to his election to the bench, he also served as a court evaluator, or investigator for the court, Court Referee and as a “guardian ad litem” representing the interests of incompetent persons.
“Of all my experience, the accomplishment I am most proud of has been maintaining a central focus on the dynamics of family,” Hendry said. “And that’s just what Surrogate’s Court is all about: family.”
Judge Hendry also presides over the Court Connections Court in Port Jervis, with the purpose of addressing mental health and associated addiction issues in an effort to avoid future criminal behaviors. Hendry says that Court Connections has been effective in reducing the criminal behavior of the participants.
The Surrogate’s Court hears cases related to highly personal matters, including the probate of wills, the administration of estates, adoptions, guardianship, and incompetency proceedings. The parties involved, many of whom aren’t represented by legal counsel, are often those who have experienced a recent loss and/or those who are facing difficult family decisions.
After graduating from Albany Law School in 2003, Hendry returned to Port Jervis and worked with then local attorney Victoria Campbell. Judge Campbell was Port Jervis City Court Judge for 18 years (12 years under former City Court Judge Robert Onofry) before she was elected to the position of Orange County Family Court Judge in 2015.
Hendry campaigned to take Judge Campbell’s place as City Court judge in 2014. He was sworn in by Judge Campbell, his former mentor, on her last day of service to the City of Port Jervis.
Additionally, Judge Hendry owns and operates Supervised Visitation Specialists of the Hudson Valley, which provides professional supervisors for court-ordered visitations, which he personally trains. “There was a vacuum [of supervisors] in Orange County,” Hendry said. "I saw a need, and I filled it."
He and his wife, Sarah, have both served on the Port Jervis Common Council. Together they share three young children, Olive, Charlie, and Alice.
Judge Hendry, an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking, fishing, and boating, regularly volunteers his legal expertise to local non-profit efforts and pro bono clients. He also coaches his son’s football team, the Port Jervis Raiders, is a member of the Metauque Falls Sportsman Club and is founder and inaugural president of the Outdoor Club of Port Jervis.