The recent obituary for the Hon. John P. Lane, retired State Court Justice, reminded me of why I’ve spent so many years being disappointed – all too often – by my interactions with the average municipal attorney or judge.
John Lane was a man of integrity; decent, honest, and intelligent.
When he was opposing counsel in a Town of Amherst matter, he didn’t play tricks. He was as interested as I was in getting disputes resolved efficiently and fairly. He actually addressed – in his court papers, and during oral argument – the issues I raised on behalf of my clients. When we disagreed on the meaning of a zoning provision or SEQRA requirement, he expressed his opposition firmly but respectfully. And, he was willing to admit if his municipal client was in the wrong.
Justice John P. Lane exhibited the same characteristics when sitting on the bench.
He showed respect to everyone in the courtroom. He thoroughly knew and understood land use and environmental laws. And, importantly, he was willing to look beyond the reasoning and excuses presented by municipal attorneys and developers’ lawyers, to determine what had actually happened during the decision-making process.
Most importantly, Justice Lane was willing to make an unpopular decision when the law and the facts demanded it. [See one example: Price v. Common Council Sup.Ct. Erie Co. 2004.]
John Lane set the bar high. He will be missed.
With All Due Respect,