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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Local Summit Sheds Light on Operations of Village and Town Courts

By Marina Kiriakou -

 

In an informative session sponsored by the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit and LMCMedia, three distinguished panelists shared insights into the workings of our local courts.  The panel included Hon. Daniel J. Gallagher and Hon. Ronald W. Meister, both Justices serving Mamaroneck Village and Town Courts, respectively, and Det. Frank D. Maresca, Jr., Youth Officer from the Village of Mamaroneck Police Department.

 

The discussion began with Gallagher providing an overview. He observed that the Mamaroneck Village Court typically ranks among the five busiest town and village courts in Westchester and is among the top 35 busiest courts in the state.  His perspective provided a unique glimpse into the challenges and accomplishments of the local courts.   Gallagher highlighted the diverse cases handled, including criminal matters, landlord-tenant disputes, code violations, small claims, and traffic and parking tickets.

 

The panel delved into specific topics of relevance to the community:

 

DWI Cases:  Meister discussed the alarming rise in DWI cases in Westchester County, particularly during the pandemic.  He shared the unique approach of the District Attorney's Office in seeking resolutions without requiring pleas to misdemeanors, emphasizing treatment and prevention.

 

Domestic Violence:  The challenges in handling domestic violence cases were outlined, with a focus on orders of protection and the delicate balance between safeguarding victims and preserving the rights of the accused.

 

Landlord-Tenant Cases:  A significant concern raised was the lack of legal representation for tenants facing eviction, highlighting the need for initiatives to provide counsel to tenants in these cases.

 

Bail Reform:  The panel addressed the impact of recent bail reform legislation, expressing the challenge judges face in setting bail due to reduced discretion. 

 

Juvenile Cases:  Det. Frank D. Maresca shed light on juvenile cases, emphasizing the role of youth officers in mediating and diverting cases before resorting to arrests.  He noted the cooperation practiced among police department youth officers of the three municipalities and stressed the importance of parent and community involvement in handling juvenile issues.

 

The session concluded with a question-and-answer period, where the audience sought clarification on various legal matters.  Notably, the local leaf blower laws were discussed, highlighting the community's engagement with legal issues that directly impact their daily lives. Gallagher advised, “For code violations, we don’t issue tickets, we adjudicate them.  The alleged offenders typically appear, the prosecutor makes a recommendation, and a deal is usually worked out that involves payment of a fine.”

 

Key takeaways from the session include the revelation that the District Attorney's office in White Plains may be grappling with understaffing issues.  The panelists expressed their pride in the local courts' performance, in general and in particular during the pandemic, emphasizing their commitment to maintaining operations despite challenges.

 

The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit and LMCMedia provided a valuable platform for the community to engage with local judicial authorities, fostering a better understanding of the legal processes that shape our daily lives.



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