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Lake Placid considers dissolving its court

December 26, 2014
By MATTHEW TURNER ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The village Board of Trustees is considering dissolving the village's court system.

Dean Dietrich, a town justice and also chairman of the North Elba-Lake Placid Community Development Commission, presented some general information to the board about what dissolution of its court system would involve.

"Looking at it, there are very few disadvantages to the village, and it's something you probably want to move forward with, but it's certainly your decision," Dietrich said.

Dietrich's commission has been investigating government efficiency and other local government policy changes. He spoke to the board Tuesday, Dec. 23 during a village work session.

According to Dietrich, there are two judges retiring in 2015. The two retiring judges are town Justice Jim Rogers and village Justice Margaret Doran. And this gives the village "an opportunity to act," he said.

"The bottom line is, the reason why I'm here right now, if you don't act in January of 2016, your next opportunity to act will be 2019," Dietrich said.

The village scheduled a public review of the plan during its regular board meeting on Jan. 5.

Dietrich said it's important the public knows that dissolving the village court is a reversible decision for a two-year window.

"In two years, you could say this is a mistake and we are going to re-institute (the village court)," Dietrich said.



There are several advantages to dissolving the village court system, Dietrich said. One of the benefits is there would be one court session per week and not three, he said. This means a representative from the Essex County District's Attorney's office would likely attend each weekly session.

"Cases move a lot more quickly and it's a fairer system of justice," he said. "It also eliminates public confusion. Every week, somebody shows up (in town court) with a village ticket. ... and it just creates some confusion."

Another benefit is the village would spend less money on a duplication of services that the town also provides the public.

"There's some substantial economic benefits," he said.

Dietrich estimates the village would save $110,000 by dissolving their court.

Mayor Craig Randall was receptive to the idea.

"My opinion is it's probably something the community will understand," Randall said.


Justices and clerks

If the village does dissolve its court system, there would need to be some details worked out between the town and village.

One major point is how many town justices are needed to do the job. The town justices would be taking on an increase in work load. However, Dietrich recommends two justices can do the job.

Another decision the town would consider is how many clerks it would hire. The village and town currently each have one clerk.

The negotiations on these topics would likely be settled by a Memorandum of Agreement between the two municipalities. However, these decisions would ultimately be the town's to make, if the village decides to dissolve.



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