Alumni Stories

Judge Robert G. Bogle, ’79: Making a Serious Contribution to the Law

It was the “Case of the Citified Chickens.” The defendant was a Frenchman who was raising the birds in his Valley Stream, N.Y., backyard. He claimed he was unaware that local law prohibited keeping chickens in the village. After hearing the testimony, the judge, Hon. Robert G. Bogle, ’79, ordered the man to get rid of his chickens and proclaimed his judgment: “No fine this time, with the condition of no further fowl play.”

Clearly, Robert has a good sense of humor. He says it comes in handy to relieve tension in his courthouse, particularly for first-timers who are nervous in the presence of lawyers and all things legal.

That’s not to say his work is always as lighthearted. In fact, the judge, who was the youngest in New York state at the time he was appointed acting village justice of the Village of Valley Stream in 1986 (a position he has been reelected to seven times), has also assisted with some horrific cases that have garnered national attention, including the Joel Rifkin serial killer case and the Colin Ferguson Long Island Railroad massacre. But those cases are few and far between, and the majority of Robert’s time is spent in the Department of Law at the Nassau County Court, where he is chief court attorney. Here, he offers advice to that court’s supreme court judges and supervises four lawyers.

Robert also serves as acting city court judge in the City of Long Beach, as an adjunct professor of criminal justice at C.W. Post College of Long Island, and as a faculty member for the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, a group that responds to written inquiries from New York state's more than 3,000 full- and part-time judges and justices. And if that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he frequently gives lectures for the Judicial Education Program of the Office of Court Administration and has written nine books on criminal procedure that are still in print.

Originally planning a career in journalism and politics, Robert became interested in the legal profession while working at an internship in N.Y. State Senator Norman Levy’s office during his sophomore year at Niagara. Although Niagara did not have a structured internship program at the time, Robert was able to earn the support of professor Richard O’Dea, the chair of the political science department at that time, and Dr. John Stranges, who was chairman of the history department.

“I was really the first student to have an internship off campus at Niagara,” Robert notes.

As an intern with the N.Y. State Senate Labor Committee, which was chaired by Sen. Levy, Robert got to meet and work with lawyers and saw the diversity available in the field of law.

“I immediately decided I would shift gears over toward law, but still keep an interest in politics and in journalism as well,” he says.

That interest motivated Robert to run for Student Council and to write for the Niagara Index. In his junior year, he became editor-in-chief, a position that gave him a platform to advocate for change on campus. He says that this experience gave him the ability to write persuasively and to back up his arguments, skills that have served him well in his career.

After graduating cum laude in 1979, Robert attended Hofstra University Law School.

“I went back to Long Island because I figured that if I was going to have a legal, professional career, I should stay close to people who already knew me,” he says.

His first job was as deputy county attorney, handling the county’s civil defense cases. Less than two years later, the village justice position became available, and Robert has served in that role ever since.

“This year I break the record for the longest serving judge in the Village of Valley Stream, and one of the longest serving judges in the New York metropolitan area,” he says, noting that this is one of his two greatest professional accomplishments. The other? “Contributing to the body of law” with his books. “I never thought I’d write a book, and I’ve written nine law books so far,” he says. “I wrote a four-volume set on criminal procedure; a one-volume set on village, town and district courts; and a three-volume form book for judges on criminal procedure and lawyers. I always liked to write, but I never thought I’d be able to write that much that extensively.”

Married 26 years to his wife, Kathleen, whom he met at another Niagara alum’s graduation party, and the father of two boys, Robert volunteers in his community as well. He’s an officer in the Knights of Columbus (“I can thank Niagara for my involvement in the Knights,” he says), is active in his church, and has been involved with what he calls his “real passion,” the Boy Scouts, since he was a child. He says that his father’s death (when Robert was just 11 years old) made him realize how valuable time is, and gave him the determination to use the time he has to the best of his ability and to make a difference in the world.

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who served his community well, and at the same time was a good father and a good husband,” he says. “I’d also like to know that I made a serious contribution to the law.”