First Woman Judge Sworn in as Town of Huntington Court
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci and Chief Administrative Law Judge Joshua C. Price joined Mara Manin Amendola, Esq. as she was sworn in to serve as an administrative law judge for the Town’s Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA) on Wednesday, September 2, 2020; the BAA, or “tribunal,” is set to hear its first cases on Thursday, September 17, 2020.
Former Planning Board Vice Chairperson, Mara Manin Amendola, Esq., 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.
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci praised Judge Price’s selection: “Ms. Amendola has been a strong advocate for quality of life issues, most notably raising concerns related to whether a project comports with the Town’s master plan, during her tenure on the Planning Board and I am certain she will bring that same spirit to ensuring quality of life and compliance with the Town Code through decisions on cases brought to the Town’s court system.”
“Given Ms. Amendola’s experience as the Village Attorney and the Prosecuting Attorney of the Village of Huntington Bay, I believe she is an excellent selection to serve as a backup judge and I am proud to have appointed her,” said Chief Administrative Law Judge Joshua C. Price.
Administrative Law Judge Mara Manin Amendola will serve as Judge Price’s stand-in to hear cases when he is unavailable to sit on the bench. Three other backup administrative law judges will hear appeals, as a board, on decisions made by Judge Price and Judge Manin Amendola. The remaining backup administrative law judges will be sworn in soon.
Judge Price will hear the tribunal’s first cases during morning and afternoon sessions in the Town Board Room at Huntington Town Hall on Thursday, September 17, 2020.
The Town’s new Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA), which serves as the sole local municipal antidote to New York State’s criminal discovery procedure changes on Long Island, was originally set to open in May 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Town of Huntington, along with Towns and local municipalities across Long Island, has been heavily burdened by New York State’s 2019 changes to criminal discovery procedures. 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 violations anonymously.
Before 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. Before the formation of the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication, if a summons was issued, the Town was required to provide the person in violation of the Town Code identifying contact information of the person reporting the violation; if the case went to trial, the Town was required to conduct a criminal background check on witness(es) and provide the defendant contents of the background check(s).
Before the State’s 2019 changes to criminal discovery procedures, paperwork was never turned over to the defendant unless the case went to trial. After the 2019 changes, the Town only had a 15-day window for the process server to personally serve a summons, Town attorneys had to then file the case in Suffolk County 3rd District Court within 24 hours of a summons being issued, and all discovery was required to be turned over within 15 days of arraignment. Code inspectors and Town attorneys were 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.
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.
Judge Price, who also serves as the Director of the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication, the Town Attorney’s office, and the Information Technology Department have met regularly since February, initially in person and remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, to develop policies, procedures, and forms for the tribunal and to integrate a software system that will manage its caseload.