The Town of Liberty Town Court is part of a network of nearly 1,300 Justice Courts across New York State that handle close to 2 million cases every year. Like its counterparts in other municipalities, the Town Court in Liberty hears both civil and criminal matters, including vehicle and traffic issues, landlord/tenant disputes, small claims, the prosecution of misdemeanors and violations committed within town limits, domestic disputes, drug-related cases, as well as arraignments and preliminary hearings in certain felony matters.
Liberty’s Town Court is presided over by two Justices who cover the entire criminal calendar, the Honorable Harold Bauman and the Honorable Kirk Orseck. Day-to-day operations in the Town Court office are handled by a team of three: Chief Clerk and Office Manager Denise Curry, Deputy Clerk Lillian Rubio, and Court Clerk Dawn Bilancione.
“The two judges cover our court calendar on two separate days,” said Rubio. “An important part of what we do, is gather all of the information on each case and get it set it up so that they are prepared with all of the pertinent background as we head into a courtroom session.”
Following these hearings, the team also receives resolutions, reviews them and advances them along to the appropriate offices in Albany, ensuring everything is properly recorded. The team also keeps a tally on individuals who visit the office to address legal matters, which often sees them working closely with a wide array of Sullivan County agencies including the Probation Department and County Jail, District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Social Services, Sullivan County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services and many others. The court clerks organize the information gained from these interactions for the Judges consideration, who then weigh all evaluations and recommendations prior to determining sentencing.
“Due to the sensitive nature of what we do, we’re an extremely confidential and discreet department,” said Curry. “And, we never know what we’re going to walk into day to day.”
The job comes with its challenges, from people feeling frustrated about their traffic court appointment, to helping those who have found themselves in more significant situations, sometimes dealing with domestic or drug-related issues.
“It’s the challenges of the job – these sensitive cases – that can also become the best part of the job,” said Curry. “For example, someone may come in for a summons dealing with drug-related hardships. But what begins with us evaluating their case, can often lead to them seeking help. And, when you see them come back follow-ups and it’s as if they’re a different person – doing so much better – that’s awesome.”
Town Court is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. The office is located on the second floor of Town Hall at 120 North Main Street. You can contact the Town Court by calling (845) 292-6980.