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City Judge Knickerbocker Fills Vacant City Judge Seat – County Cancels Plans to Move City Court to County Courthouse


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In a slightly sudden change of events, City of Cortland Judge, Elizabeth Burns, was recently appointed to NY Court of Claims after Governor Kathy Hochul nominated her earlier this year. Judge Burns confirmation was earlier this month and she then left the City of Court position on June 6th.

With this, part-time City of Cortland Judge Lawrence Knickerbocker will now be the full-time judge for the City of Cortland; elections for the seat for a full term will take place this November.

Due to New York State Law, Judge Knickerbocker was given the opportunity to fill the vacancy without the need to be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Common Council. Mayor Scott Steve noted it is expected that Judge Knickerbocker will seek reelection to the seat this November.

The City of Cortland, though, now has an open part-time Judges seat. This vacancy does allow the mayor to present a nomination for the seat to the Common Council; the council must approve the mayor’s nominee. Currently, Mayor Steve noted during the Common Council meeting on Tuesday there are several people being vetted for the position and his focus will be based on experience and not related to party-lines.

The State of New York will be expanding the courts in Cortland County. Judge Burns will remain local and be at the Cortland County Courthouse in the Court of Appeals, a higher position than the Supreme Court at the Courthouse. New York will also be adding another family court for the county.

Due to the expansions, there is now no space for Cortland City Court to move into the County Courthouse, forcing the County to cancel their memorandum of understanding with the city on the move; the Legislature is expected to vote on removing the MOU during a future meeting.

Mayor Steve noted to the Common Council, the city will have to rethink regarding City Hall now that the Court will no longer move.

Further discussions on the issue are expected to be discussed at a later meeting. For now, Mayor Steve noted he does want to begin work at City Hall noting the buildings AC and heating systems.

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