Dissolution of village court raises concerns

Representatives of the Northern New York Landlord Association say they’re concerned about the potential dissolution of Massena Village Court because they say it will extend the amount of time it will take to make court appearances. Bob Beckstead/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A representative from the Northern New York Landlord Association, which represents about 45 landlords, brought a concern he had to the Massena Village Board one day and the Massena Town Council the following day.

David LaBelle said he and other landlords are concerned about the possible dissolution of village court and the impact it will have on the time frame to deal with legal issues involving tenants.

He said, if the village dissolves its court, it would double the workload for the judges in the Massena Town Court. That will mean more time before they can appear before a judge.

In addition, Mr. LaBelle said, the state has extended the time it takes to evict a person.

“It used to be four to five weeks. Now we’re up to 10 weeks, sometimes 12,” Mr. LaBelle said. “You’re talking about three months before you can get somebody out unless there would be somebody to expedite the procedure.”

He said they typically appear in village court twice a month for a hearing and begin the paperwork process. Now, he said, that will be extended if there’s one court. It takes about 14 days to get on the village docket right now.

“It’ll be six months before you can get a tenant out,” he said.

A local government reorganization study had recommended merging the town and village courts, which can’t be done because of the geography of the village.

A portion of the town of Louisville is located in the village of Massena, and an opinion by the state Conference of Mayors regarding merging and dissolution of courts noted that it wasn’t permissible to merge the courts in New York when it involved multiple towns and villages.

That leaves dissolution as the alternative, but that cannot happen until the end of the current justice’s term.

The current justices are Joseph Brown and Eric Sharlow for the town court and Diana Dufresne for the village court. Mr. Brown also serves as acting village justice.

Ms. Dufresne had been appointed by the Village Board to replace Patrick Serguson following his retirement.

That term does not expire until 2022, and Ms. Dufresne has been nominated by the Massena Democratic Committee to run on this November’s ticket to finish out the term.

Town Supervisor Steven D. O’Shaughnessy said they would keep Mr. LaBelle informed, but there was probably nothing the town could do.

“I just want you to know, the town of Massena has no say. We haven’t officially been told that this is the village’s plan and we really haven’t delved into it,” he said.

“I think we should sit down with them, discuss what their plans look like and what the pros and cons are,” council member Samuel D. Carbone Jr. said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

milocat

The answer is dissolve all the courts and convert to district courts get some professionals in there.

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