For the first time in 105 years, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court held a working session in the Chautauqua County Courthouse here.
More than 100 people, mostly attorneys, attended Thursday's session, which included 14 cases presented before the five justices. Court officials said the attorneys came from Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.
Presiding Justice Eugene Pigott and Associate Justices Samuel L. Green and Christopher Burns of Erie County, Elizabeth W. Pine of Monroe County and Henry J. Scudder of Steuben County heard oral arguments on three appeals in criminal cases, six appeals in personal injury cases, a contract case, two cases about juvenile delinquency from the Family Court and two cases from the Surrogate's Court. Decisions are expected in two weeks, according to court officials.
"The justices have read the briefs and summaries in the cases, and they have been briefed by their clerks," said attorney Michael Sullivan of Fredonia. "The justices ask questions of the attorneys during oral argument."
"We are privileged to have the Appellate Division come to Chautauqua County," said State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Gerace. "Judge Pigott has literally taken the Appellate Division from the closet in Rochester and taken the court here and to other rural counties."
"This is a terrific opportunity for residents of Chautauqua County and the legal profession to be instructed firsthand in some of the most significant decision-making process(es) in the legal system," said Chautauqua County District Attorney James Subjack. "This is also a rare and exciting opportunity to see how the appellate judges listen to the arguments and come to conclusions. I have been before the court and have wondered about the decisions. It will be great to have them tell us how they came to their conclusions."
Chautauqua County Surrogate Judge Steven W. Cass commented, "It is a tremendous opportunity for the public to understand the workings of the Appellate Division. Also, this opens the doors to show the justices are people just like us."