Without leadership change, Guilderland’s court will languish

To the Editor:

I just read Anne Hayden's article in The Altamont Enterprise about the "D" judicial candidates.  One candidate was quoted, concerning the backlog of cases in the town court, as saying "It's been overwhelming, it's a lot of work, but we're staying on top of it." 

This raises two questions: "Why?” and “Really?"  

You only have to spend an evening in Guilderland Town Court to know that the town court process needs significant revamping.  Nowhere have you heard any of the quoted judicial candidates set forth a plan for resolving issues other than the fact that a third town justice position had been created. 

As the only candidate with solid law-enforcement and complex litigation credentials, I have set forth a specific plan for resolving the town court's issues.  I have pointed out exactly what I would do in the first 100 days in office. 

And frankly, without a change in leadership and direction, town court will languish for another four years.  This reality is something that should be unacceptable to residents, litigants, and attorneys who practice before the town court.     

Interestingly, there is no indication as to the specific number of cases backlogged or how many cases are being adjudicated every month. There is no indication as to how many hours a month the town judges are working on town court matters and in their private law practices.  And, as I have been arguing, there is a lack of transparency in the town court concerning these issues even though these statistics are very easy to ascertain.   

Obviously, these are important questions concerning the actual backlog and what the judicial candidates' plans are for increasing court access, hours of operation, and reducing the backlog of cases. 

But one thing is for certain. You simply can't run a full-time court with part-time judges and part-time hours a few days each week as has been done for the past eight years.  Should I be elected, I am prepared to establish daytime court hours eight hours a day, three days a week, providing greater access to the court for litigants. 

I am prepared to reduce the number of hours I work in my private practice for the benefit of the town court.  I am prepared to work with the New York State Office of Court Administration to establish standards and goals to prevent future backlogs.  I am prepared to seek additional resources from the district attorney's office to reduce the backlog of cases on the criminal docket.  I am also prepared to work with the local bar to seek its suggestions on improving the court's efficiency.

I will also be prepared to work with a new town administration and the district attorney's office to change the role of the town attorney in town court to more actively involve the town attorney with other types of court cases rather than just traffic tickets.   

It's time to start asking the critical and important questions. More importantly, it’s time for Guilderland town residents to get concrete answers to those questions.

Stephen G. DeNigris, Esq.
Republican Candidate for Guilderland Town Justice

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A group of concerned citizens from all walks of life within the Guilderland School District came