EO: Can you briefly describe the duties of town justice?
GB: The town justice presides over the town court, and in Elbridge each justice convenes court every other Monday evening. Town court has jurisdiction over a broad range of matters, including vehicle and traffic matters, small claims, evictions, civil matters and criminal offenses. Furthermore, town justices need to be available for arraignments, many of which may be late at night. The position also allows me the opportunity to perform marriages.
EO: How have you prepared yourself to take up this role?
GB: I have invested considerable time in interacting with our court personnel in Elbridge; our current justices have been very gracious in allowing me access to educational materials offered to them and our two court clerks have been patient to answer my questions. In the Fifth Judicial District, new town justices are assigned a mentor judge; Judge Stephen Poli of Camillus was selected as my mentor. The mentoring process involves meeting with my mentor as well as attending their court. I have completed this; there will be further interaction as I go along. Recently I attended a technology training session to introduce me to some of the electronic resources, the e-mail system and the digital recorder that is used every time court is in session. On my own I have visited all 19 town courts in Onondaga County, along with several village courts as well as a day visiting Syracuse city courts. This has exposed me to many hours of court time to observe practices and procedures, along with a significant variety of cases. The most significant preparation will take place when I start the "Taking the Bench" course commencing shortly. This is a course mandated by New York State prior to being allowed to serve in this capacity.