State Court To Decide Dispute Over Peekskill City Judge Appointment

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Mayor-elect Frank Catalina is questioning the appointment of a city judge before new council members take office. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Frank Catalina

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- A state Supreme Court judge will decide on Thursday who has the right to appoint a Peekskill 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 has 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's lawyer, John Hersh, said traditionally the new council appoints a judge. 

"The outgoing mayor cannot make appointments for future councils," Hersh said. "The council doesn't have the authority by law to make this appointment."

Mayor-elect Frank Catalina said outgoing Mayor Mary Foster is abusing her power as she prepares to leave office. 

"She has been stacking boards and commissions since the election that binds the next administration," Catalina said. "Maher is a fine jurist with deep roots in the community. He has his finger on the pulse of the community."

Catalina claimed Johnson's appointment was political. Johnson has previously run for Common Council as a Democrat.

"Politics should be left out of judicial appointments," Catalina said. "I want to say I am shocked by her actions, but knowing her, not really."

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.

"I am disappointed Maher is suing the city and costing the taxpayers time and money because he didn't get picked," Rigger said. "On Jan. 1, the people of Peekskill would wake up with no city judge, that's extraordinary."

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

  • 8
    Comments

Comments (8)

Billy Bubba Jones:

So? What did the judge rule on Thursday?

elena.walker.921:

What I'm not looking forward to is 2 years of whining by the party that got shown the exit door. Let's do what's right for the community and allow a bipartisan administration do the job the people elected them to do!

Bob Hechler:

If the Judge in this instance begins his or her term on January 1st 2014, the same day as the new Common Council Members then it only makes sense that the position be filled by the out going council. It is incorrect to say Mr. Johnson was a Democratic Candidate for Common Council. His name never appeared on any ballot, I would have voted for him. The Mayor elect is the one playing politics. Are we going to have to take every decision that doesn't go Mr. Catalina's way to the State Supreme Court? I for one am not looking forward to two years of his temper tantrums.

Billy Bubba Jones:

Why was my last post removed? What I said was I had used my name in the past but had gotten 3am phone calls. That I am an independent and not affiliated with any party and vote for the best person regardless of party affiliation. And that I hope this common council does the right thing and allows the duly elected new council to vote on their choice.

Michaelkane_cwa:

Billy Bubba Jones and DEE DEE two very believable characters spouting off. Must be 2015 local campaign has started, Wonder if I'll see these names on the ballot?
Come on Daily Voice can not you do better?

DEE DEE:

you never know.

DEE DEE:

another classless move by Foster and her crew.

Billy Bubba Jones:

Aren't we all getting tired of this political posturing in Peekskill. Once the votes were counted I assumed that we would try to show a little bi-partisanship and get along for a couple of months. But then the self appointed majority leader takes a shot across the bow with her "I'm really in charge because we are the majority and the mayor is really only a figurehead". (Drew, remind Mary of that please). Now the dems are trying to dump a judge who's done nothing but his job the last 25 years. Darren, of course people are going to complain. He puts them in jail when the facts warrant. Bill Maher has been an asset to Peekskill since he's been appointed. PLEASE, do not let politics get in the way. Have a little class on this one. If the council that has been duly elected for the coming term votes Mr. Johnson as the new judge, so be it. But don't allow this very important appointment be done by those walking out of the door.

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