Port Washington resident William Bodkin has had a full career in the court system fulfilling various positions, but his newest career move as village justice for Manorhaven comes with Bodkin’s desire to fulfill the position as a judge who is “honest, compassionate and fair so people have confidence in the justice system.”
On Feb. 22, Bodkin was unanimously appointed by the Manorhaven mayor and Board of Trustees as its newest village justice. His appointment comes in the wake of former Village Justice Christian S. Alfaya’s resignation.
Bodkin said he had found out about the position through some friends. He then spoke to Mayor John Popeleski and offered his service to fill the position.
The mayor, trustees and village attorney reviewed his resume, interviewed Bodkin and conducted background checks before concluding he was qualified to be appointed to the position.
“The trustees and I are thrilled to have an attorney of Judge Bodkin’s qualifications and experience serving as village justice,” Popeleski said in a news release. “We strongly believe that Judge Bodkin has the temperament and knowledge to be a great Justice for Manorhaven.”
Bodkin began his career in private practice, but after a few years moved to a position as an appellate court attorney for the Appellate Division, First Department. He worked in that position for 10 years before coming to Nassau County to be the principal law clerk for Judge Norman St. George and then for Judge Steven Jaeger.
He currently serves as the chief court attorney for the Nassau County Supreme Court and as a judicial hearing officer for the Office of Court Administration, where he presides over employee disciplinary hearings.
“Becoming village justice seemed a natural outgrowth of my years serving the public in the court system,” Bodkin said. “It’s the opportunity to continue my public service in a new way.”
Beyond his career, Bodkin, who has been a Port Washington resident for about a decade, is also a passionate family man devoted to his kids. He said he was very active in Science Night at their elementary school, dressing up as characters such as Chewbacca the Wookie and Hagrid from Harry Potter to bring some fun to an educational program.
While Science Night was notable for Bodkin, American history has always been a love of his. His idea of a vacation for his family last summer was a tour of the Gettysburg national military park so they could share an experience to learn about the importance of that history.
“When you’re studying American history, you realize so much of it comes from what various governmental leaders do,” Bodkin said. “What politicians do, what the courts do has so much to do with moving American history forward. So by becoming a lawyer, I was first attracted to it because it gives you a new window into how American history works in many ways and moves forward. Because the law is really a central part of that narrative and a central part of the American story.”
Bodkin said village courts are an important aspect of New York State courts as many residents will only have interactions with the court system through these courts.
“It’s important to me because that’s the essence of what we provide as a court,” Bodkin said. “People come into court to resolve their disputes and you want to know that the person who’s hearing your dispute is honest, compassionate and fair, and also well-versed in the law.”
The village court sits once a month. It hears cases including parking tickets, traffic tickets and village code violations, Bodkin said.
Since the court is only in session once a month, the position of village justice is part-time and Bodkin said he will continue serving his full-time position in the Nassau County Supreme Court.
Bodkin’s appointment as village justice will only extend through July 3. The village will be holding an election in June for various elected positions, including village justice. Bodkin said he plans to run for the position.