MAYVILLE – Often times, criminal cases in Chautauqua County Court are adjourned once or twice due to the sole criminal court experiencing a backlog of arraignments, sentencings, pre-trial motions and so on.
The arson trial of Jonathan Young is a prime example. Young’s trial was previously scheduled to start today, Jan. 22, but was adjourned until Apr. 2 as the Leland Bresee first-degree rape trial started this past Friday after a series of delays of its own.
To that end, WNYNewsNow recently inquired to see if officials believe a second criminal court should be established in order to split the caseload and prevent the numerous delays.
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello said that, perhaps, the county should look at how to be more efficient with the one court that currently exists.
“I would hope that we can control and effectively improve the situation so we won’t need that (a second court),” Borrello said. “I think there’s positives and negatives to the no bail, jail situation, and that may help alleviate some of the costs of incarceration, and it may also help things speed up in the criminal court.”
“I wouldn’t want to speak about whether we need a second court or not. We want to continue to give our law enforcement officials the tools they need to effectively and properly prosecute cases and bring them to conclusion.”
WNYNewsNow also reached out to District Attorney Patrick Swanson for comment. Swanson said that the New York State Office of Court Administration (NYSOCA) could create a second criminal court in Chautauqua County based on historical numbers.
“If our numbers continue to climb, at some point it just becomes untenable with one court,” Swanson said. “We have two family courts in this county because it’s justifiable, and because the numbers up in family court are high.”
“It would be justifiable if the OCA would add a county court. They could justify it by looking at the numbers historically for Chautauqua County’s criminal docket, when you only have one judge, are high.”
Swanson said that New York State must establish a second court, rather than the Chautauqua County Legislature. The District Attorney added that he doesn’t see the state undertaking the financial burden.
“That’s an expensive endevor for the State to undertake, and I don’t see that coming,” Swanson said. “I don’t know what Mr. (Ned) Barone and myself could do to discuss ways to alleviate court pressure. The cases come in and we handle them. We don’t control how many people are committing crimes, we just have to handle the cases as they come in.”
“At some point, hopefully, the OCA takes a look at the numbers that are traveling through our County Court, and they realize maybe it’s justifiable to add another county court. I don’t see that happening in the near future.”
Swanson said, in the meantime, his office will continue to work their cases as they’re received.
“What I don’t want to see happen is (for our office) to feel compelled to plead certain cases due to a backlog,” Swanson said. “We try to make decisions based on the case and the victim’s wishes and not on what it’s going to do the court calendar.”
WNYNewsNow has attempted to seek comment from Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone, but calls for comment haven’t been returned as of publish time.