County Continues To Press For Second Judge
Published: April 19th, 2007
By: Michael McGuire

CHENANGO COUNTY – The Chenango County Safety and Rules Committee unanimously carried a resolution Wednesday to the full Board of Supervisors requesting the New York State Assembly amend the state’s judiciary law to create a second judgeship for Chenango County.

The county has been pushing the Assembly for four years in an effort to relieve county, surrogate and family court judge Howard Sullivan’s caseload, which rivals nearby two-judge counties like Otsego and Madison.

“Judge Sullivan is just overloaded,” said committee Chairman Alton Doyle (R- Guilford). “The caseload has gotten tremendous. There is definitely a need.”

A 75 percent increase in family court cases from 1998 to 2005 has added to the burden, resulting in a slower turnover rate for case outcomes.

“(Sullivan) has for a number of years single-handedly sustained a case load of Family, County (Criminal and Civil) and surrogate’s Court matters equal to or, in several instances, exceeding that of two typical Multi-Bench Judges,” states Sixth District Administrative Judge Judith F. O’Shea in a memo from the fall of 2006.

State Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R-Guilford) acknowledged Thursday that the request has been awaiting action, but could not project when or if a second judgeship would be created for Chenango County.

“There are usually a number of requests for judgeships,” Crouch said. “We’ll try to get as many negotiated as possible.”

“At this point it’s tough to make a projection,” he said.

• The committee also carried a resolution to the full board to support amending state insurance law so the state can compensate municipal code enforcement offices. The state collects a 1.25 percent fee from municipalities for commercial fire insurance premiums that covered code enforcement duties until 1992. The current resolution calls on the Senate and Assembly to reinstate that practice.

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