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Courtland Memo of Law

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An interesting open meetings lawsuit has been filed in Cortland County Supreme Court.
The memorandum of law filed in the lawsuit lays out some interesting drama in the town of Cortlandville, (population 8,000).
Apparently the town attorney John Delvecchio had a private legal matter before town court judge Mary Beth Mathey. Judge Mathey dismissed Delvecchio’s case as being insufficient.
Soon thereafter, DelVecchio confronted Judge Mathey in her office, demanded preferential treatment, accused her of being prejudiced against him, and threatened to remove her from her elected position as Town Justice through his influence with the Town Board.
According to the memo of law, Although Judge Mathey recused herself from DelVecchio’s cases, he continued to retaliate against Judge Mathey through his influence with the Town Board.
DelVecchio’s grudge reached a boiling point in early 2023 when the Town Board attempted to eliminate a Town Justice position then and now held by Judge Mathey.
The lawsuit alleges that the town board held an improper secret meeting to discuss the elimination of Judge Mathey’s position. After the secret meeting a special town board meeting was scheduled. The notice and agenda for the meeting referenced failed to specify the purpose of the meeting or how the meeting
was intended to introduce a referendum in the next election to abolish a town justice position. Instead, the only notice the public received about the contents of this meeting was an allusion to a
secret meeting of the Town Board: “Results of privileged conversation held between the Board at the Supervisor’s request concerning potential changes at Town Hall.”
At the special town board meeting the Town Board stated that four of the five members of the Town Board had convened in an secret meeting regarding the abolition of the office of Town Justice held by Judge Mathey. “[T]he Town Board met with the Town Attorney in an attorney client meeting earlier today to discuss an ongoing situation in the Town concerning the number of Town Justice positions. . . . One of [several legal issues discussed with Mr. DelVecchio} was to eliminate the position of second Cortlandville Town Justice. . .”
DelVecchio, according to the minutes, read the resolution he had prepared to abolish Judge Mathey’s position. The Town Board adopted the resolution in a 4-0 vote with no discussion or inquiry
on the impact on court operations of returning to a single town justice and only raised conclusory claims that the Town Court has incurred heavy financial losses by having two town justices.
You can read the memo of law below.

The Author

Paul is the founder of the NY Coalition For Open Government and has truly loved seeing it become what it is today and is excited about its future growth.

As an attorney for 32 years, he is a partner in the law firm of Berzer & Wolf. Prior to his private law practice, Paul served in several government positions with the Buffalo Common Council, Buffalo Housing Authority, and Erie County.

When he is not practicing law and doing open government stuff, Paul enjoys spending time with his spouse, Cheryl, and his three children, Michael, Joseph, and Julia. Paul resides in Amherst, NY, a suburb of Buffalo.

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