The Town Courts deal with the following types of cases:
Parties can sue individuals in Small Claims cases in where amount in controversy does not exceed $3,000. The person being sued must reside in the Town of Gaines, own a business in the Town of Gaines, or be employed in the Town of Gaines The party being sued can then file a counterclaim against the plaintiff. The counterclaim can be filed prior to the hearing date. However, the defendant can wait to file the counterclaim on the night of the small claims trial. If the defendant waits to file the counterclaim on the night of the trail, then the plaintiff is entitled to an adjournment to review and prepare to defend against the counterclaim. Anyone being sued in a small claims matter is entitled to a jury trial. Normally, small claims cases are conducted without an attorney. However, if a jury is requested, it is recommended that both parties have an attorney. A free pamphlet on Small Claims matters is available from the Town Court Clerk.
Town Courts have regular civil jurisdiction of matters involving damages up to $3,000. These cases frequently involve parties that are represented by attorneys, since the regular rules of pleadings apply. These cases can involve discovery procedures, wherein the parties exchange information about the case to the opposing attorneys. The regular rules of evidence are enforced by the judge. Parties are entitled to both bench and jury trials.
Appeals from both the Small Claims and the regular Civil Cases are made to the Orleans County Court.
These cases normally involve actions by landlords against tenants for unpaid rent. In addition, landlords usually request that the court grant them a warrant of eviction, which permits a landlord to have Orleans County Sheriff Deputies remove the tenant from the premises if the tenant does not leave as directed. The landlord may also be entitled for a judgment for unpaid rent, attorneys fees, cost expenses, and interest on the debt. There are specific rules for service of the Summons and Petition, and there are time periods which must be taken into account, when seeking a court date. Representation by an attorney is not required, but may be recommended.
The cost is twenty dollars ($20.00) for eviction proceedings
Town Courts have original jurisdiction over any individual charged with any violation, misdemeanor, or felony matter, which occurred within its geographical area. Town Justices are the local magistrates, before which any individual charged with a crime must be brought for an arraignment. At an arraignment the accused is formally advised to the charges which have been filed against him or her.
In the case of a felony matter, such as a murder, robbery and burglary, the town justice must decide at the arraignment whether to release the defendant on their own recognizance, release under supervision or set bail. If the defendant has been convicted of two prior felonies, and is currently charged with a felony, the town justice must hold the defendant without bail. If the accused is not released, the town justice must hold a preliminary hearing within 120 hours of the defendants arrest or within 144 hours if a holiday or weekend intervenes during that time period. The preliminary hearing is conducted to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe a felony has been committed, the defendant is held over for action of the Orleans County Grand Jury. The court could also determine that the charges only raise to the level of a misdemeanor or that no violation of the law occurred.
In the case of a misdemeanor, such as DWI, Assault 3rd, Petit Larceny, or Criminal Contempt 2nd, the justice court has jurisdiction of the matter up through trial. The defendant is entitled to a bench or a jury trial. Jury Trials in justice court call for a six person jury, where a unanimous vote is required for conviction. If the defendant is convicted the court can sentence the defendant up to one year in the Orleans County Jail, probation or a conditional discharge.
In the case of a violation such as disorderly conduct, the defendant is entitled to a bench trial. If convicted the defendant can be sentenced up to 15 days in the Orleans County Jail.
Town Justices can also sentence people to probation or a conditional discharge. Sentences can also include fines and / or community service.
Some vehicle and traffic matters, such as speeding violations, are violations and not criminal matters. Nevertheless, they can involve fines and loss of driving privileges. Defendants are advised to consider consulting an attorney, when their license is in jeopardy of revocation.
Legal Representation; although you are not required to hire a lawyer to represent you in a traffic infraction matter, however based on the infraction, it may be in your interest to do so.
In addition to fines on traffic infractions, the State of New York imposes a surcharge on moving violations and equipment violations in the amounts of $55.00 and $35.00, respectively.
The court does accept credit / debit cards in payment of any fines. The court does not accept partial payments toward fines. Fines must be paid by cash, cashiers check available at banks, credit cards, debit cards or money order.
Town Justices are authorized to perform wedding ceremonies throughout New York State. In order for a Town Justice to perform a wedding, the couple must a Marriage License issued by any Town Clerk in New York State. The license must have been issued more that 24 hours prior to the commencement of the ceremony. However, it must not have been issued more than 60 days prior to the commencement of the ceremony. At least one witness is required to be present at the ceremony and must sign the marriage license. You can call the Town of Gaines clerk at 585-589-4592 ext. 11 with any questions or to obtain a Marriage License.
Generally, each judge has a standard civil ceremony that is used. The law does not require any particular ceremony be used, although the judge uses the standard civil ceremony, that ceremony may be altered, additions to the standard ceremony, to accommodated the wishes of the couple. It is suggested that you contact the Town Justice with questions sufficiently in advanced of your wedding date and to assure the Judge’s availability on that date.