– Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci expects the Town of Huntington to have the sole
local municipal antidote to New York State’s criminal discovery procedure
changes on Long Island, the Town’s new Bureau of Administrative Adjudication
(BAA), operational by May 2020.
Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci stated: “The State's changes to the discovery
process created a nightmare for the Town Attorney’s office and Code Inspectors
seeking to resolve code violations, restore public safety and improve quality
of life for our residents.
Town is fortunate enough to have had the State approve legislation enabling the
establishment of the first Bureau of Administrative Adjudication on Long
Island, which will not be subject to the State's new discovery obligations.
Once it is operational, hopefully by May, residents in Huntington will be able
to once again report code violations anonymously while the Town will be able to
resolve these matters faster and more efficiently.”
Town of Huntington has been heavily burdened over the past few months by New
York State’s changes to the criminal discovery procedure. The new State law
created a very laborious process on a tight timeline for code inspectors and
Town attorneys, also eliminating the ability for individuals to report code
the State changed the law, an individual would be able to report a code
violation to the Town anonymously; if the violation was resolved through
compliance, the entire process remained anonymous. Now, if a summons is issued,
the Town must provide the person in violation of the Town Code identifying
contact information of the person reporting the violation; if the case goes to
trial, the Town must conduct a criminal background check on witness(es) and
provide the defendant contents of the background check(s).
Lupinacci added: “If the Town can’t protect the privacy of individuals
concerned enough to report a code violation, this makes it less likely a person
will report sometimes dangerous violations and it can escalate neighbor
disputes, which helps no one.”
paperwork was never turned over to the defendant unless the case went to trial.
Now, the Town only has a 15-day window for the process server to personally
serve a summons, Town attorneys must file the case in Suffolk County 3rd
District Court within 24 hours of a summons being issued, and all discovery
must be turned over within 15 days of arraignment. Code inspectors and Town
attorneys are chasing down records on a short timeline, copying every record
related to the property or violation – documents, emails, texts, and notes –
even searching the Town Clerk’s archives for old documents related to the
property or violation.
adds overtime, more office work and less field work, all for cases that may
never go to trial. Code inspectors are spending 25% of their time on
administrative work and only 75% out in the field, where they are needed most,”
Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA), or tribunal, resolves many of the
issues created by the State's recent changes to the discovery process. The
tribunal will cut red tape and improve operational efficiency to the Town’s
code violation resolution process; maintain the privacy of residents and
individuals who report violations that do not go to trial; allow for more local
control over code enforcement, holding hearings at Town Hall instead of Suffolk
County 3rd District Court; and resolve issues related to prosecuting violations
in District Court that preceded the State's changes to discovery procedures.
Town Attorney’s office, the Director of the Bureau of Administrative
Adjudication and the Information Technology Department have been meeting
regularly, since the appointment of the Bureau Director at the February 11,
2020 Town Board meeting, to develop policies, procedures, and forms for the
tribunal and to integrate a software system that will manage the caseload.
its November 6, 2019 meeting, the Huntington Town Board voted to establish the
Town’s first municipal Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA), or
tribunal. The tribunal is the first of its kind on Long Island and only the
third in New York State. It will hear cases of Town Code violations that
threaten public health, safety and welfare, except for violations of the
Building Code and Traffic Code.
the photo: Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci meeting with Town Attorney and Deputy
Supervisor Nicholas Ciappetta (left) and Chief Administrative Law Judge and
Director of the Town’s Bureau of Administrative Adjudication Joshua Price
(right), to discuss the formation of the tribunal.