Peekskill Judgeship Remains Up In The Air

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Peekskill Mayor-Elect Frank Catalina is hoping a judge will allow the incoming common council to appoint a city judge. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Frank Catalina

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- It still unknown who will be Peekskill's city judge on New Year's Day.

A judge in Putnam County Supreme Court last week extended a temporary restraining order against the new Peekskill Common Council from appointing a new judge.

The Peekskill Common Council was set to approve Reginald Johnson as the new Peekskill city judge, replacing William Maher, who has served for more than 25 years and whose 10-year term expires Dec. 31.

But Maher had gone to court claiming that the outgoing council had no authority to appoint a new judge and the new common council, inaugurated Jan. 1, should decide.

A state Supreme Court judge temporarily blocked the council from voting for Johnson.

Maher and his lawyer, John Hersh, have argued traditionally, the new common council appoints a judge. Mayor-elect Frank Catalina agrees, saying outgoing mayor Mary Foster was abusing her power.

Hersh said he expects a decision from the judge this week.

"They will rule on it with all due haste," Hersh said. "I was pleased the judge continued the temporary restraining order. It maintains the status quo."

Councilman Darren Rigger said previous judges had served for only a few years.

"I begrudge him no ill-will, but he has been there for more than 25 years," Rigger said. "We need a fresh look at our court system, there had been some complaints."

Rigger said they interviewed several candidates and found Johnson to be the best candidate. He said judges need a time of transition, and they wanted to have a new judge in place before Maher's term was up.

Hersh said the assistant judge would serve as city judge until the council appointed a new judge.

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Comments (2)

DonaldJSabo:

Ten years is a long time and my understanding is that our City Judge's length of term comes from State provisions beyond the scope of our local powers. What concerns me about this is accountability.The term for Council members is four years and now we have several outgoing members who will no longer be present and accountable for appointments made by them. To the extent that we are able, I would like for us to equate accountability to authority. The City Judge appointment is about the most important decision that we must make and it must not be taken lightly. I believe we should make our choice with careful consideration, input from incoming council members, other interested parties and the general public.

Bob Hechler:

I'm sure Mr. Catalina would like to appoint the Judge. He's promised everyone and their brother something so I would imagine that position already has one of his cronies names on it. The fact of the matter is that if the new Judge takes office January 1st then responsibility for filling the position clearly falls on the outgoing council. I am not looking forward to the next two years. It looks like every time Mr. Catalina fails to get his way we'll be heading to court. Personally I'm already tired of his temper tantrums.

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