Judge Craig Doran, administrative judge for the 7th District, was in Penn Yan Oct. 23 for the official opening of the new Yates County Centralized Arraignment Court, housed in the Public Safety Building. Yates is the fourth county to do so in the district, and only the eighth county in the entire state of New York.

State law required that every defendant be represented by an attorney at their arraignment. Until now, town justices had to be phoned by arresting officers for availability at all hours of night and day; then those officers had to wait at the court with the judge and the defendant until an attorney, usually from the Public Defender’s Office, was able to drive to the town court. This kept the officers from their primary duties of patrol, inconvenienced many judges, and often delayed arraignments.

Six justices from the nine local courts in Yates will now be holding scheduled arraignments at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. right at the jail where defendants are booked and held, allowing both the district attorney and the defense to be present. While the actual savings are difficult to calculate, the efficiences of time invested are numerous.

Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, Yates County Undersheriff Howard Davis, and Jail Administrator Jared Bailey were credited by Doran for getting the new process underway, which actually began weeks ago. Middlesex Justice Margaret Randolph was the first judge to sit on the new bench, and coincidently, the first case happened to be from Middlesex. Spike says three justices are choosing not to participate. Reportedly, one is because of potential conflicts, one who recently withdrew from the bench because of residency, and one who doesn’t agree with the centralization away from the town courts.

Doran says he is proud of Yates County’s swift action in setting up the court, and that he hopes to establish centralized arraignments throughout the 7th Judicial District.