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Lake Placid board hopes to appoint judge soon

October 27, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - This village's court situation continues to evolve a month after its only justice, William Hulshoff, suddenly resigned, leaving an associate justice handling an increased caseload for multiple municipalities without compensation.

At the Oct. 16 board meeting, Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said the village has received verbal interest in the position from three people, and he expects to appoint a new village justice within the next few weeks.

The mayor added that a candidate may be chosen at a special board meeting between now and November or at the village board's next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 6. He and village attorney Janet Bliss also emphasized that anyone interested in the position can reach out to the mayor's office to submit a resume and be considered.

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"I hope to schedule appointments with each of those and interview them as soon as possible," Randall said.

Randall said the village hopes the new appointee can hold court by mid-December after attending requisite state Office of Court Administration training in early December.

Hulshoff's unexpected resignation last month left the village in a position where the town of North Elba's only available justice, Dean Dietrich, is taking the village's caseloads without being paid.

Dietrich and Hulshoff are North Elba's only two justices, and Hulshoff is also absent from his town duty currently as he's taken a multi-month leave of absence as town justice to attend to a serious family health matter in Florida.

Nevertheless, Randall said the court is working normally despite having only one justice handling town and village caseloads.

"Cases are being addressed, and it's through the good graces of Dean Dietrich, who is operating in the short term in the interim at least as the associate backup judge," Randall said. "Obviously, the court clerk's office is working quite smoothly. And in fact, we had a meeting with them earlier today, and I think we were encouraged by the information that the court so far hasn't missed a heartbeat.

"Up until Justice Hulshoff's resignation, I would say that [Dietrich] was called upon only infrequently, if at all. I don't think he was called on that much."

Randall, the village board and Dietrich, who chairs the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission, all have advocated in recent years to consolidate the village court into the town court, though the town would still have two justices. Hulshoff staunchly opposed and fought against the move, and village voters twice supported him in special referendums, most recently last March, when he was also elected to a new four-year term through March 2021.

At the Oct. 16 meeting, Randall said the village currently has no plans to merge the court operation, though he feels it remains "desirable.

"This would not be the right time to do that," he said. "So we feel it's best at this point, the appointment your mayor will make will fill [Hulshoff's vacated] term until April, when there is going to be a special election in March, and we'll see where we go from there."



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