By Ben Grimaudo and Antonio Goodsell
Canalside Chronicles Staff
Not many chemistry majors end up as judges for village courts. Not many people can balance that and the critical task of information systems at a major university. However, Judge Williams Andrews Jr. did.
Andrews Jr. was a chemistry major at The College at Brockport. He also minored in biology. In addition to that, he served as a senator for the Brockport Student Government. After he graduated college, Andrews moved back to Boston. Andrews spent his early years in Bean Town before moving to Brockport as a teenager.
In Boston, Andrews started working as an engineer, but as the job market begin to change, he transitioned into information systems. While Andrews lived in Boston, he met his wife who also had roots to Western New York. Andrews and his wife have four sons, and the birth of his fourth son inspired him to move back to Brockport.
Another reason he moved to Brockport was because of a conversation he had with his father, William Andrews Sr.
Andrews Sr. was a dean at the college and now serves as Brockport’s Lieutenant Mayor. According to Andrews Jr., that conversation planted a seed of the possibility of moving back to Brockport.
“I knew I had to make more money and find more room to get help for our family. My father said you know there’s a house, the Leslie’s house across the street that is for sale,” Andrews Jr. said.
Following this conversation, he put in a purchase offer on the house he currently lives in. While he went to college, Andrews Jr. served as a senator for student government which he recalled was “very dysfunctional at the time.” Andrews Jr. is also responsible for authoring the current BSG Constitution.
Outside of serving as village justice, he works at the University of Rochester in information systems. Prior to becoming a judge, he served on various village committees which aided in his election.
Brockport did not always have a village court, and according to Corey Stepanek, one of Andrews Jr.’s clerk’s, it was a difficult process.
“It was a long process. Because you have to obtain numbers to be recognized by the state and you have to log into the systems. We use different systems to register Orders of Protections and to get our tickets from, so it’s a lot,” she said.
Andrews Jr. follows specific rules when working at the village court. His jurisdiction is within the village of Brockport which holds a population of nearly 8,000 residents in addition to almost 8,000 college students.
In New York, town and village courts take care of misdemeanor cases only. One of Andrews Jr.’s goals is to be judicious for the people and to be as fair as possible while making sure people are aware of the consequences to their actions.
Andrews Jr. does not think that college students should be afraid of him. “They shouldn’t be. Our purpose is not to punish, but to adjust your behavior, if you’re guilty,” he said.
Mayor Margaret Blackman noted that his time in Brockport was pretty similar to some of the students who come through his court.
“I think he would describe himself as a typical student. One of the things he liked was to party, so he has seen both sides because he has lived it.”
“I think he would describe himself as a typical student. One of the things he liked was to party, so he has seen both sides because he has lived it,” Blackman said.
Some of the issues usually seen with college students are violations of disorderly conduct such as a “disorderly house.” This happens when students cause too much noise at their homes. Other village ordinances that include open container violation, open fires, littering and people using fireworks.
Something that makes Andrews Jr. such an effective judge, according to his clerk Susan Weiss is his thoroughness.
“He seems very thorough, he likes to pay attention to what he is doing. He assesses each case individually. He remembers them. He listens and is very alert,” Weiss said.
Andrews Jr. also deals with the civil cases of students and small claims, so if a student ever has any issues with the property like a security deposit or any rental issue he will handle it and same for any landlords having issues with the college students.
When the judge is not on duty and not working his other job, he enjoys photography and taking photos of nature.
His wife also owns Arjuna Florist and Design which is located on Main Street. Andrews Jr. is in charge of running the books for his wife’s business. Being a Boston native, his favorite teams are naturally the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. He recalls going to the games as a kid.
“It cost 10 cents each way with transfers and a dollar to get a bleacher ticket. I used to do that all the time as a kid,” Andrews Jr. said.
Andrews Jr.’s overall thoughts on his job are that he really likes what he does because he is neutral with his decisions and does not show bias. He is willing to help the people but has issues with giving people a chance if they make the same mistake again. Then he must make a tougher decision. He appreciates when people really do make a change because that is his goal when people come to his court.