Guilderland to ask state legislature for third justice

Guilderland residents spoke out against a proposal by Councilman Warren Redlich that would direct police officers to withhold writing tickets for DWAI's where defendants register a 0.04 or 0.05 BAC.

At that same Tuesday, March 17, town board meeting a motion to seek permission from the state to hire an additional town justice passed 4-1 with Republican Councilman Warren Redlich dissenting. He stated adding a justice is an expense the town cannot afford.

Town Supervisor Ken Runion said although the court system operated at a profit, hiring an additional justice should not be decided solely on whether the town will make or lose revenue.

You can't base everything on dollars and cents, he said. "We have an obligation to the town, and services cost money.

Councilwomen Patricia Slavick echoed that sentiment, stating the board should base decisions on more than simply doing a financial cost-benefit analysis.

Redlich proposed a measure to increase the efficiency of the court, rather than hiring another judge, by suggesting police offers restrain from DWI tickets for cases commonly thrown out.

Redlich said he is concerned that the additional justice will be too expensive, and strain the already stretched budget even further. Redlich estimates the cost of a justice accounting for salary, benefits and possible additional staff could come between $60,000 and $100,000.

"We just decided to spend $100,000 at a time when we have a serious fiscal crisis at the national, state and local level," Redlich said of the motion to seek state approval.

He said other towns such as Bethlehem, Rotterdam and Clifton Park generate more revenue each year, and only have two justices.

As an alternative to hiring an additional justice, Redlich suggested several measures to make the town court more efficient. He suggested having more cases handled by mail and staggering the times people come into court, to save time.

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