A longtime municipal judge will serve temporarily in Cheektowaga Town Court, which has been short-handed since February.
Timothy J. Dwan, who has more than four decades of experience, reported for duty – for which he volunteered – this week. He’s on the bench Tuesdays and Thursdays, and he will handle Sunday morning arraignments.
The job pays $74,960 annually. Dwan volunteered to do it for free.
“Why not do it for the taxpayers?” he said Wednesday. “I’m doing it for public service, for the judiciary.”
Dwan was assigned in the absence of Cheektowaga Town Justice Dennis A. Delano Sr., who’s been off for almost three months amid rumors of health problems and conflicts with town officials. Delano didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Cheektowaga’s other town justice, Paul S. Piotrowski, had been shouldering the court’s entire caseload until Town Supervisor Mary F. Holtz requested a temporary judge last week.
Paula L. Feroleto, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District, said she immediately granted Holtz’s request.
“I just made it temporary through the end of June,” Feroleto said Wednesday. “We’ll just have to see how it goes from there.”
Feroleto said that she hasn’t spoken directly with Delano, but that there’s been contact between him and her liaison for town and village courts. Delano initially was expected to return to the courtroom this Monday; the new date is June 2.
Delano is in the final year of a four-year term. Two other people already have declared their candidacies for town justice.
While there have been complaints from the public about Delano’s absence and calls for an investigation, Feroleto said it’s not something her office would do. “I wouldn’t have the authority to do it,” she said.
That would fall under the jurisdiction of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which handles complaints of misconduct from the local to state level. After reviewing a complaint, the commission decides whether to investigate or dismiss it.
“Everything is confidential unless a judge is publicly disciplined,” spokeswoman Marisa Harrison said Wednesday, explaining that she couldn’t confirm or deny if a complaint has been filed or investigation performed.
Meanwhile, Dwan welcomes the opportunity to continue serving the judiciary.
He was a Lancaster town justice for 36 years and has worked for the villages of Lancaster and Depew. He’s still an acting judge in Depew, where he’s pressed into service two or three times a month.
Dwan also taught criminal-justice courses at Erie Community College’s North Campus for 38 years.
He said he offered to work in Cheektowaga during a recent visit to Feroleto’s office.
“It’s a good chance for me, while I’m over there, to see some of my old friends,” Dwan said.
And, anyway, “retirement” isn’t in the vocabulary of the 72-year-old judge.
“I don’t want to look at four walls,” Dwan said. “There’s always something new or different in the judiciary.”