Tribunal is First of its Kind on Long Island, Third in New York State
Huntington – Officials from the Town of Huntington opened the newly formed Bureau of Administrative Adjudication, or tribunal, with a ribbon-cutting and swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, September 17 in the Town Board Room at Huntington Town Hall in between morning and afternoon sessions of the first court of its kind on Long Island.
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Councilman Ed Smyth, Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia, Superintendent of Highways Kevin S. Orelli, and Chief Administrative Law Judge Joshua C. Price were joined by former NYS Senator Carl Marcellino and newly sworn in administrative law judges Mara Manin Amendola, who will serve as Judge Price’s backup on the bench, and the appellate administrative law judges Gregory Grizopoulos, James F. Leonick and Tammy E. Skinner for the ribbon-cutting and swearing in ceremony.
In 2017, in his role as a NYS Assemblyman, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci was sponsor of the enabling State legislation in 2017 with then-Assemblyman Andrew P. Raia cosponsoring; former State Senator Carl Marcellino sponsored the enabling NYS legislation in the State Senate.
“The opening of this tribunal is a huge step for the Town of Huntington in efficiently resolving public safety and quality of life issues while protecting the privacy rights for those who report violations, as it resolves tremendous legal issues created by the disastrous changes to criminal discovery procedures in the bail reform laws passed by New York State in 2019," said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, who ceremoniously pinned the Town Seal on each of the judges’ robes before the ribbon cutting. “It is fitting that we are celebrating the opening the court that will hear cases concerning violations of the code that governs our Town today, as it is also Constitution Day in the United States. On this date 233 years ago — September 17th, 1787 — the Constitution, the supreme law of the United States, was signed by its authors, and began its challenging journey toward ratification. We are making history today as well.”
“The Town will be well-served by Chief Administrative Law Judge Joshua Price, Administrative Law Judge Mara Manin Amendola, Judge Gregory Grizopoulos, Judge James F. Leonick, and Judge Tammy E. Skinner. Each is a very experienced attorney with the temperament necessary for this important new role,” said Councilman Ed Smyth.
“As a former New York State Assemblyman who cosponsored the legislation allowing the Town to create this new court, it is highly gratifying to know that I will be able to witness firsthand the positive impacts this will have on our community in my new capacity as Huntington Town Clerk,” said Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia.
“I am proud to have presided over the opening of our court today. My mission will be to treat every citizen with dignity and to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard,” said Chief Administrative Law Judge Joshua C. Price, who presided over morning and afternoon sessions of the court Thursday and performed a swearing-in of the administrative law judges during the ceremony.
The Bureau of Administrative Adjudication resolves many of the issues created by New York State's changes to criminal discovery procedures contained in the 2019 “bail reform” law that created a burdensome process for Town attorneys and code inspectors. The Town tribunal cuts red tape and adds efficiency, as it is not subject to the new criminal procedure discovery obligations, it eliminates long waits for getting a case on the court calendar, so matters can be resolved more quickly, and it makes the prosecution of code violations less costly for the Town and its taxpayers.
The key benefit of the Town tribunal, aside from the efficiencies and cost-savings, is that it restores privacy rights eliminated by New York State law for residents facing public safety and quality of life issues that need to be resolved.
The Bureau of Administrative Adjudication allows for the anonymous reporting of violations, maintaining the privacy of residents and individuals who report violations that are resolved through compliance; privacy protections for residents and individuals who report violations in cases that go to trial in the Town tribunal ensure witnesses are not subjected to criminal background checks to be shared with defendants. The 2019 State law requires Towns to share the contents of criminal background checks on witnesses to defendants for cases heard in Suffolk County 3rd District Court, where the Town would prosecute code violations before the tribunal was created.
Judge Mara Manin Amendola has been appointed to serve as a backup administrative law judge for the Town’s Bureau of Administrative Adjudication by its Director, Chief Administrative Law Judge Joshua C. Price. Judge Amendola will serve as Judge Price’s stand-in to hear cases when he is unavailable to sit on the bench.
Judge Price also appointed Gregory Grizopoulos, James F. Leonick and Tammy E. Skinner, all attorneys from the Town of Huntington, who will serve as administrative law judges hearing appeals, as a board, on decisions made by Judge Price and Judge Amendola.
At 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. Cases may include nuisances, noise violations, illegal housing, zoning violations, illegal dumping on land and in Town waterways, illegal sewer connections, and more.
In the photos: Chief Judge Joshua C. Price Swearing in Judge Tammy E. Skinner with administrative law judges looking on; Chief Judge Joshua C. Price Swearing in Judge Tammy E. Skinner, Judge James F. Leonick, Judge Gregory Grozopoulos, Judge Mara Manin Amendola; Ribbon Cutting (l-r): Judge Tammy E. Skinner, Judge James F. Leonick, Judge Mara Manin Amendola, Judge Gregory Grozopoulos, Chief Judge Joshua C. Price, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, Councilman Edmund J.M. Smyth, former Senator Carl Marcellino, Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia, Superintendent of Highways Kevin S. Orelli; Press Conference (l-r) : Judge James F. Leonick, Judge Tammy E. Skinner, Judge Gregory Grozopoulos, Judge Mara Manin Amendola, Chief Judge Joshua C. Price, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, former Senator Carl Marcellino, Town Clerk Andrew P. Raia, Councilman Edmund J.M. Smyth, Superintendent of Highways Kevin S. Orelli.