Court Consolidation To Get A Retrial

Saving money among the myriad town and village courts that make up Chautauqua County’s justice court system is not a new idea.

Court consolidation made news more than 10 years ago when Chuck Cornell, then a legislator representing Jamestown’s north side, and Keith Ahlstrom, a Dunkirk Democrat who was chairman of the legislature, began discussing the idea publicly. Proposals discussed then would have required legislation at the state level and an opt-in by town and village governments. The idea was eventually shot down because town justices feared district courts wouldn’t improve the quality of court services while town and village boards would have struggled to replace the revenue generated from court revenues.

That history is what makes something George Borrello, R-Irving, said particularly interesting. Borrello, in a conversation with The Post-Journal’s Jimmy McCarthy, mentioned one of the ideas the county’s Regional Services Commission is discussing moving the courts into a shared location. Borrello said court systems would stay separated but that taxpayers could see efficiency by having the courts in one location. Being able to share staff amongst the courts would certainly save money — and one can also argue it would improve services given the number of thefts and missing money that have been documented in audits of the county’s town and village courts.

Cornell and Ahlstrom were unsuccessful in making changes to the way courts were structured. Perhaps Borrello and the Regional Services Commission will have better luck.