Town judge in Turin chased from office for sloppy work

LEWIS COUNTY — Town of Turin Court Justice James E. Chase has been cited by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct of mishandling court funds, not finishing more than 200 pending cases and failing to suspend the drivers’ licenses of more than 1,000 defendants.

The Lewis County town justice resigned on Dec. 8, three weeks before the end of his term on Dec. 31. Chase was Turin’s only justice, having served in that position since August of 1998.

"I have entered into a stipulation with the New York State Commission of Judicial Conduct to resolve the Commission’s investigation of me in my position as judge for the Town of Turin," Chase wrote in his Nov. 30 letter of resignation.

The Commission closed their investigation following Chase’s resignation.

The Commission cited Chase on several issues.

¿ The late, and insufficient deposits of court fees:

Authorities said between January 2009 and December 2010, Chase was repeatedly late in depositing court funds into the bank. Funds were supposed to be deposited within 72 hours. On multiple occasions, officials said the deposit was less than the funds the court had received.

One one point during that period, the court was deficient more than $6,000.

Chase is not accused of stealing the funds, Commission officials stated.

Officials said Chase’s court funds were $3,162 in December 2010, which was not enough to cover the pending disposition of $30,180 in bail that had been received by the court since September 2002.

¿ Failing to notify the state Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to suspend the drivers’ licenses of 1,328 defendants:

Authorities said from February 1999 and onward, Chase failed to notify the state of the suspension of 1,008 defendants who had missed a court appearance. Authorities said Chase also failed to notify the state about 320 defendants who had failed to pay court fines, which totaled more than $54,000 in fines and surcharges that had not been paid.

¿ Failing to finish 276 outstanding vehicle and traffic cases:

Authorities said since March 1999, 276 defendants pleaded not guilty to their charges, but Chase never followed up on their cases. All 276 cases remain pending with no further action scheduled, according to the Commission.

¿ Failed to notify the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles about 14 vehicle and traffic convictions between October 1999 and October 2005.