Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
April 10, 2012 Issue
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What’s next for Liberty’s court?

By Dan Hust
LIBERTY — Come April 1, the Village of Liberty Court will conclude what Village Justice Harold Bauman believes is a century-old tradition of service to the community.
Bauman himself, despite 164 votes toward his re-election, will end his eight years as judge.
“I was fair and sought justice, not political expediency,” he mused the day after Tuesday’s dissolution vote, passed by a 2-1 majority of village residents.
While remaining a Town of Liberty justice – into which the village court will be absorbed – Bauman isn’t happy with the situation.
“It was a rather sudden decision of the board,” he charged. “... I don’t think a study was made.”
Citing the loss of a $30,000 state grant and the potential unemployment of two village court clerks, Bauman didn’t see a future savings to the village – and he argued that courts aren’t supposed to focus on revenue generation.
“Courts exist to administer justice, and this was not considered,” he stated.
Mayor Richard Winters said the vote made it clear what taxpayers wanted.
“‘We can’t take anymore’ is what I think the vote says,” he remarked yesterday.
Though unable to provide an exact figure, the mayor said savings will definitely be realized.
“I believe it has to,” he remarked of the voters’ mandate.
Village Attorney Langdon Chapman said the village and the town will now have to meet to discuss an orderly transition, with aid from the state’s Office of Court Administration.
Mayor Winters, however, is worried that what he feels is an ongoing lack of cooperation from town officials could hamper their efforts.
Town Supervisor John Schmidt could not be reached for comment by press time yesterday.
In the meantime, Bauman will begin preparations for the court’s dissolution.
“I feel it’s very sad, because it’s a permanent decision,” he remarked. “After April 1, it will be gone forever.”

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