Mark A. Montour was sworn in Friday as the first Native American judge in New York, vowing to protect the rights of every resident and to recognize the sovereignty of the Native American courts across the state.
Montour, a member of the Mohawk tribe, said that after his election to State Supreme Court in November, he was appointed to a committee of the New York State Unified Court System to address the sovereignty issue.
He said that on his own, he will visit those tribal courts, each with its own different judicial system, to help with recognition of their sovereignty.
During his 30 years as an attorney, Montour, 55, a University at Buffalo Law School graduate, has worked as a legal consultant to the surrogate judges for the Seneca Nation.
He recognized those two judges, Esther Maybee of the Allegany Territory and Eileen Marx of the Cattaraugus Territory, who were among the many city, town, county and state judges at the swearing-in in the ceremonial courtroom at the Erie County Courthouse.
He was sworn in by State Supreme Court Justice John M. Curran, with his wife, Michele, and his two sons, Cameron and Kyle, at his side.
Montour was a Lancaster town justice for six years and served 12 years as a Lancaster town councilman before becoming a town judge.