Judge Estes earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1968, and a Juris Doctor law degree from Albany Law School in 1971. He was admitted to practice law in the courts of New York State by the Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, and in the Northern District of the United States District Court, early in 1972. He was admitted as an attorney and Counselor of the Supreme Court of the United States at Washington, D.C. in 1976. He enjoyed eleven (11) years of private law practice in Walton, N.Y., through 1982. After relocating his family to the County Seat of Delhi, New York, he was elected Judge of the County Court, Surrogate’s Court and Family Court of Delaware County New York in 1982.
Judge Estes continued his legal and judicial education by taking countless training courses in the fields of child abuse and maltreatment, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, civil and criminal case management, and other vital areas of practical application every year since taking office.
Judge Estes was elected President of the Association of County Judges of the State of New York in 1993, after ten (10) years of service as delegate for the sixth judicial district. On April 30, 1993, a Special Services Award was presented to Judge Estes by the Delaware County Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Addictions, Inc. “in recognition of (his) dedicated service, outstanding leadership and contributions in the field of Alcoholism and Addictions.”
On September 1, 1988, Judge Estes was appointed to a two-year term as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Law Guardians for the Third Judicial Department by Hon. A. Franklin Mahoney, Presiding. He was subsequently appointed for two additional terms, serving a total of six years. The Advisory Committee is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Law Guardian Program in 28 counties of the state from the southern tier to the Canadian border. It recommends standards and procedures for improving the quality of representation by Law Guardians, attorneys appointed by the Family Courts to represent children in proceeding including juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect, and custody and visitation.
Judge Estes oversaw more than 30,000 cases, including numerous felony criminal trials, while serving as Judge. He used innovative measures to manage a family court caseload that nearly doubled during his tenure. He pioneered the use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in Family Court, and he laid the groundwork to establish a drug court in the county.
In 2003, the Delaware County Bar Association conferred upon Judge Estes the Liberty Bell Award, in recognition of his years of outstanding service to the people of Delaware County. The Liberty Bell award is awarded only to those individuals who have promoted better understanding of the rule of law; encouraged a greater respect for law and the courts; stimulated a sense of civic responsibility; and contributed to good government in the community.
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