NORWICH – Due to the increasing number of family and criminal cases, the county court will be temporarily handing over its criminal court responsibilities to the local Supreme Court in 2008.
Chenango County Court Judge W. Howard Sullivan said, “It has become incredibly difficult to fulfill my duties in a timely fashion.”
Sullivan is the county’s family, criminal and surrogate court judge and has been carrying nearly twice the caseload of neighboring county judges for the last five years. The judge said the ever-present burden of his work load combined with the steady rise of court cases, particularly family court, has led to the county looking for aid.
“It occurred to me that we were falling too far behind when families coming into the court in November were being told that their initial appearances wouldn’t be scheduled until February,” said Sullivan.
The county will continue to hear criminal cases for the first court term of next year, but the district’s Supreme Court will preside over the remaining three terms. Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Dowd will be hearing criminal cases until the county can “catch up” on its family court responsibilities, said Sullivan. This adjustment is expected to reduce Sullivan’s caseload by 25 percent. Nearly 70 percent of the cases heard by the county are family court cases.