News of Otsego County

judge brian burns

Judge Burns Seeking Nomination For State Supreme Court Ballot

Judge Brian Burns

Seeks Nomination

To Supreme Court 

If Successful, Oneonta Jurist

Would Run For Coccoma Seat

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Brian W. Burns in his office at the Otsego County Office Building. ( photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County Court Judge Brian W. Burns is seeking the nomination for retired Judge Michael Coccoma’s vacant seat on the state Supreme Court in the Sixth Judicial District, he confirmed this afternoon.

Burns was recommended for the nomination by the Otsego County Republican Committee. He has served as the acting Supreme Court judge for the Sixth Judicial District since 2006.

Because of the pandemic, only proxies for the 10 county delegates will attend a Judicial Convention Tuesday, Aug. 18, in Binghamton where the Republican nominee will be determined.



Otsego County’s Wheels Of Justice Grind – Virtually
Reprinted From This Week’s
Hometown Oneonta, Freeman’s Journal

Otsego County’s

Wheels Of Justice

Grind – Virtually

Judges, Lawyers Operating On Skype

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Judge Burns
D.A. Muehl

COOPERSTOWN – Even the courtroom has gone virtual in the age of COVID-19.

“If the arraignment is essential, like a felony arraignment, we’ve got Skype set up in the courtroom,” said District Attorney John Muehl. “An email gets sent around with the information, then the judge, myself and the lawyers can all be present, but nobody has to appear.”

With all cases adjourned until May 15, no one’s appeared virtually yet, but the courts want to be ready. “Arraignments are necessary proceedings,” Muehl said. “For example, if we had a domestic violence case where an order of protection had to be issued, we could arraign them.”


Jury Selection Starts In Fatal Oneonta Fire

Jury Selection Starts

In Fatal Oneonta Fire

Truitt Brother, Girlfriend May Testify

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Gabriel Truitt

ONEONTA – The brother and the ex-girlfriend of Gabriel Truitt, 33, may be called to testify in the trial now underway in Otsego County Court.

They are Terrence Truitt and Heather Engler, and Gabriel is the Oneonta man charged with arson and first-degree murder in the death of former Oneonta firefighter John Heller on Dec. 30, 2018.

Jury selection began Tuesday, Jan 21, with County Judge Brian Burns presiding. District Attorney John Muehl is prosecuting; Truitt is represented by Public Defender Michael Trossett.

Bourbon-Parme’s ‘Convicted Felon For Rest Of Life’



‘Convicted Felon

For Rest Of Life’

Antoine Bourbon-Parme listens to Judge Burns’ remarks at this morning’s sentencing hearing. At left is defense lawyer Gar Gozigian. (James Cummings/

By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special to

COOPERSTOWN – “From this day forward, you are a convicted felon and will be for the rest of your life.”

County Judge Brian Burns chides the convicted embezzler.

That was what county Judge Brian D. Burns told Antoine Bourbon-Parme, 59, as he was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge on a charge of grand larceny in the fourth degree, a Class U felony, for embezzling more than $18,000 from the Cooperstown Food Pantry.  He was arrested last April 2.

“You took advantage of the organization’s trust and the public’s trust of that organization. Beyond that, you stole from some of the most needy and vulnerable members of our community,” said Burns.

“Literally stealing the money that would go to run a food pantry. It’s difficult to put into words your selfishness,” the judge said. ““We don’t know how far the ripples of your dishonesty will go in time.”

And Burns emphasized that the sentence did not necessarily match the deed.

Judge Burns Announces Integrated Domestic Violence Court

Judge Burns Streamlines

Domestic Violence Court

The Integrated Domestic Violence Court seeks to aid victims of intimate partner violence by connecting them with legal help, counseling and by streamlining the court process. Participating are, from left, public defender Mike Trossett, Sura Page, New York Model Domestic Violence Program for Batterers, District Attorney John Muehl, Otsego County Court Judge Brian Burns, Dr. Adriana Steffens , Mind Matters and Will Rivera, VIP crisis intervention director.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – For Otsego County Court Judge Brian Burns, the Integrated Domestic Violence Court is about more than just streamlining the court process.

It’s about saving lives.

“Right now I have two attempted murder cases in my courtroom that stem from domestic violence,” he said. “Intimate partner violence is a serious crime.”

Under the current system, victims and perpetrators have to appear in person multiple times in different courts – Family, Criminal, and/or Supreme – which can give inconsistent orders on the cases.

Truitt Trial Scheduled For Jan. 20, 2020

Truitt Murder Trial

Scheduled For Jan. 20

Gabriel Truitt

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

ONEONTA – With a motion to suppress evidence rejected this morning, Gabriel Truitt, charged with the murder of John Heller after he allegedly lit his girlfriend’s Walling Avenue apartment on fire, will stand trial in Otsego County Court Jan. 20. 2020.

During a hearing this morning in front of county Court Judge Brian Burns, Truitt’s lawyer Dennis Laughlin submitted motions to suppress photos and video taken inside of Truitt’s Tru Cuts that allegedly showed him taking the chemicals allegedly used to start the fire at 5 Walling Ave.

VanCourt-Wels Pleads Guilty To Assault

SUNY Student Pleads Guilty 

To Stabbing Girlfriend In Face

Appearing in Otsego County Court before Judge Brian Burns, Julian VanCourt-Wels accepted a plea deal this morning from the District Attorney’s office, pleading guilty to assault in the first degree, a class B violent felony. In December, VanCourt-Wels stabbed his girlfriend in the face multiple times at their Maple Street apartment in Oneonta. Vancourt-Wels will serve ten years in a New York State correctional facility for the crime as part of the plea deal. (Parker Fish/
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