SCOVIRO: Keep Town Justices, Police Separate


Keep Town Justices,

Police Separate

To the Editor:

Delaware County, where I previously served as Delhi town justice, did not have the apparent problems as indicated in Otsego County concerning the arraignment of arrestee.

I was available for those early morning arraignments, sometimes covering for an unavailable justice court judge.

One such arraignment was for a burglary committed at a far end of this county. The arresting officer thought it was to his advantage to disregard calling perhaps five judges, called me at 3 a.m. in Delhi, have the arraignment, then dump the prisoner off at the Delaware County jail, which was a few minutes away, and then go to his home, and bed.

Needless to say, he was told, try that again, and see what happens.

The flaw with that is the problem within the meaning of our three branches of government. Years ago, the local town or village courts were called “police justice courts.” I like to think a local judge figured that one out, and had that name changed.

There are approximately 1,900 local justices in the states’ 62 counties.

That, along with ancillary costs, are funded by the local municipal governments, for which the state remits a small percentage of the total fines received.

Yes, system improvements need to be done, one of them might be called “district judges” similar to what I’ve witnessed while visiting Westchester, Pa., several years ago, funded by that state.

This state has superior control of the actions of the local justices, and the procedures within the courtroom, and yet, it only contributes that small percentage of fines monies, and let’s not forget a rather large New York State surcharge that the local judges must impose, whether the defendant is fined, or not.

Most importantly, we cannot have a courtroom in a police facility.

Delhi Town Justice (retired)

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