TOWN OF NORTH HARMONY
SPECIAL TOWN BOARD MEETING
MONDAY 5/19/2015 9:30 AM
SALLY P. CARLSON, SUPERVISOR PRESENT
RALPH WHITNEY, COUNCILMAN ABSENT
FRANK STOW, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
RICHARD SENA, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
DUNCAN MCNEILL, COUNCILMAN PRESENT
OTHERS PRESENT: Dave Stapleton, Attorney; Howard Peacock, Justice; Scott Humble; Kim Schosek; Nancy Thomas, Town Clerk
Mrs. Carlson said this meeting had been called to ratify MOTION # 61-2015 which was made at the 5/11/2015 board meeting. She said there had been a conference call with Court District 8 Supervising Judge Markey.
Mr. Stapleton said he, Sally Carlson and Judge Peacock had been present during the conference call. He said Judge Markey has experience with the TONH Court and the purpose was to get a sense of what, if any, concerns he might have regarding the town’s elimination of a justice position. He said Judge Markey had indicated that there is a justice court “watch list” which identifies any danger signals concerning how the courts are run, but the TONH court is not on that list. He said the court is a busy court with approximately 10% of its conducted business being penal matters and 90% traffic matters. He said Judge Markey feels that the TONH court is run very efficiently due to the work of the Clerk’s in the court. Judge Markey said that filling the vacancy left by Judge Bensink (5/11/15 – 12/31/15 end of term), is at the total discretion of the town board. He said it would determined based on Judge Peacock’s confidence is covering that position. Mr. Stapleton said Judge Markey indicated that issues only exist when someone becomes ill or goes on vacation and is not available for arraignments. He said in that case another Town Justice would have to come in or the cases would have to be shifted to another town.
Mr. Stapleton indicated that the Town Board had authorized the Town Clerk to advertise for a special meeting to be held on 5/19/2015, in order to ratify and clarify on the motion through Town Law that the motion to eliminate the elected second justice position was subject to permissive referendum under Sec. 60-a. of Town Law. He also explained that if a justice was appointed to complete Judge Bensink’s term of office, they would have to complete training which is held in November, 2015, and could not assume any duties until completion of that course.
Mrs. Thomas said the Board of Elections was advised of the vacancy of an elected position on 5/13/2015.
MOTION # 70 OF 2015
- SENA MOTIONED TO RATIFY MOTION # 61-2015 ELIMINATING ONE (1) TOWN JUSTICE POSITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH TOWN LAW §60.a. AND TO CLARIFY THAT THIS IS SUBJECT TO PETITION FOR PERMISSIVE REFERENDUM UNDER TOWN LAW §90. FURTHER THE TOWN CLERK WAS AUTHORIZED TO PUBLISH AND POST THIS FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION. MR. STOW SECONDED.
Scott Humble asked the board to reconsider its decision and appoint him to the position. He said as a licensed practicing NYS Attorney for over 25 years, he is exempt from attending the Justice courses. He said he is a 53 year resident of the area and was a member of the Town Board for 4
5/19/2015 (Pg. 2)
years. He said his intent had been to run against Judge Bensink for the position this year. He said he has practiced before Judge Peacock and he is very professional. He said most courts use 2 justices and in his opinion a 2 justice system is optimal in case of emergencies or other potential problems. He said his experience includes handling many felonies, misdemeanors, speeding charges and DWI
cases. He said he would like to use his experience to give back to the community and for the benefit of the town at no charge. He said his experience makes him set and ready to go during the busy summer months of court. He again stated his willingness to be trained by Justice Peacock and assist him at no additional cost to the town.
Ms. Schosek said she has been a resident since 1988 and has noticed that on nights court is being held (especially in summer) the parking lot is full and overflowing. She said she cannot imagine leaving all that work to one judge.
Judge Peacock said there is only one judge here at a time.
Ms. Schosek asked if there would be more adjournments because there is only one justice.
Judge Peacock said actually there would be less because the judges alternate court nights.
Mr. Stow said that the Town Clerk and Code Enforcement Officer have hours that night as well, so some of the traffic could be for those services.
Ms. Schosek said she still feels that the work load will be heavy for one judge, especially in the summer when tourism is at its height.
There was discussion of calendar call and it was stated that the two current justice’s alternate doing this every other month and this can cause cases to be held over longer than if one justice does it every month.
Mr. Stow asked Mr. Humble if he was currently a resident of the town.
Mr. Humble said he is.
Judge Peacock said that court begins at 5:00 PM and even on calendar call night they are usually done by 7:00 PM or earlier.
Mr. Sena said that shared services play a part in this decision. He said the town can add a justice at a later date if it is needed.
There was also discussion of appointing a temporary judge if it became necessary.
A ROLL CALL VOTE WAS REQUESTED. MR. MCNEILL, YES; MRS. CARLSON, YES; MR. STOW, YES; MR. SENA, YES. THE MOTION WAS CARRIED.
MOTION # 71 OF 2015
ON A MOTION MADE BY MR. SENA, SECONDED BY MR. STOW AND NONE BEING OPPOSED THE HEARING WAS ADJOURNED AT 10:25 AM.
Nancy M. Thomas