Press-Republican

Local News

June 11, 2014

Justice: Many positive changes in four years

MALONE — Frank Cositore is proud of the accomplishments made in the almost four years he has served as a Town of Malone justice.

He said he and Justice Michael Lamitie handle traffic, criminal, small-claims and code violations as part of the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job that resulted from a merger between the town and village courts in 2010.

Between 2010 and the end of 2013, the court’s caseload increased from 3,891 to 5,192 cases.

Cositore said the town can now use a home-monitoring program as a sentencing option, and a new program, in cooperation with the Franklin County District Attorney’s Office and Public Defender’s Office, provides the accused with legal counsel the first time they appear before a judge.

He says it protects the defendant’s constitutional rights and streamlines the court’s operation.

Traffic day is also used to quicken the pace of cases in the busy Malone Court, “reducing the time and cost of operating the court while improving the administration of justice,” he said.

'SHORT STAFFED'

The court calendar was reworked to reduce backlog, the pending-warrant system was made more efficient, and coordination was improved with the County Sheriff’s Department for fewer inmate transports, Cositore said.

“It’s important for residents to know how the court operates and what our obligations are,” he said.

Part of that disclosure highlighted in the annual audit that the courts undergo — Malone's showed some deficiencies when records between Jan. 1, 2012, and December 2013 were reviewed by Dragon Benware CPAs.

The justices drew up a response to the items cited in the report, such as late financial deposits and lack of recording deposits in the receipt book, delays in reconciling bank statements and the cash book, and the lack of recording the status of cases pending from the State Department of Motor Vehicles.

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