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Cuomo Signs Mina-French Creek Court Merger Bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation allowing Mina and French Creek to elect one judge for both towns.

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, and state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, sponsored A.9884/S.7579 in their respective chambers in the state Legislature. Both pieces of legislation passed unanimously. The legislation was signed by Cuomo on July 29.

For several years French Creek had been unable to recruit anyone to be the town justice, which in addition to hearing cases includes imposing, collecting and accepting fines as well as keeping records of fines, surcharges and fees generated by town court. The town had been contracting with a substitute town justice who lives about 30 minutes away from the town.

“This is an expensive and inconvenient burden on the town’s population, particularly when the expense of maintaining the court is compared to the volume of matters handled by the court,” Goodell and Borrello wrote in their legislative justification.

Court for both towns will be held in the Mina Community Center, 2883 North Road, Findley Lake. French Creek, Mina and Sherman already share an assessor and combining courts can save both towns some money for training and overhead. It will also help the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s office be reducing a night for an assistant district attorney to be staffing a rural court.

“Consolidating the courts of the two contiguous towns will increase the likelihood of being able to attract qualified candidates to fill vacancies as they arise, reduce the costs of maintaining two court systems (one in each town despite the small population and volume of matters of each town), and streamline the administration of the courts, while ensuring that each town continues to maintain excellent judiciary services for its residents,” Borrello and Goodell wrote in their legislative justification.

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