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Batavia City Court

Attorney Thomas Burns 'elated' over appointment as part-time City Court judge

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia City Council members tonight voted in favor of appointing attorney Thomas A. Burns as the municipality’s part-time City Court judge and the lifelong Batavian said he couldn’t be more pleased.

“I’m very, very happy. And it’s kind of ironic that I was admitted to practice law 32 years ago this date, and in about 15 days, I turn 60, and I’ve been in this town my whole life and I love this community,” Burns said by telephone following Council’s Conference and Business meetings at the City Centre Council Board Room. “I’m just elated that Council has the confidence in me to do a good job.”

Burns will assume the role that became vacant with the death of David Saleh on Oct. 29. His term begins on Jan. 1 and runs for six years.

Burns, as he mentioned, was admitted to practice law in New York State on Dec. 14, 1988, after receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University at Buffalo and his Juris Doctor from Buffalo State University.

He has been practicing criminal defense and litigating civil matters from his Batavia offices since then. He and his wife, Kelly Donohue Burns, an attorney with the Genesee County Public Defender’s office, have a grown daughter, Elizabeth, who works in the commercial field in Boston.

Burns said it is his responsibility to make sure he is accessible when called upon to wear the robe.

“It’s the obligation of a person assuming a judicial position not to get involved in too many cases that are going to involve conflicts,” he said. “You have to be available for not only the time of the court, but the last thing in the world that you want is your conflict providing judge (cases where Rogers recuses himself) to have a boatload of conflicts.”

City Council President Eugene Jankowski said the board interviewed applicants and decided to move forward with Burns.

“Personally, I voted for Mr. Burns because I believe that at this point, he is the best applicant to serve our community and the people of Batavia,” he said. “Hopefully, that will continue on and he will do a great job.”

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said he had nothing against Burns on a personal level, but voted against the appointment due to previous friction between City Court Judge Durin Rogers and Burns.

“I know that in the past he has had a conflict with Judge Rogers,” Bialkowski said following the meeting. “He’s filed complaints with the judicial district against the judge, so I see there would be an animosity. And the other thing, today with there being so many court cases handled by the public defenders -- what happens? – somebody has to recuse themself.”

Bialkowski said he was thinking about “the smoothness of the court” in casting the “no” vote.

“Judge Rogers was the elected judge and he’s full time, so the part-time judge would have to work for the full-time judge. I just see a lot of conflict that’s all,” he said. “I know that Mr. Burns is an excellent attorney and I’ve heard a lot of good things about him, but I don’t like to see people put in a position of conflict.”

Bialkowski also noted mentioned that he could foresee Burns having to recuse himself in cases involving his wife in her role with the Public Defender’s office.

When he brought that point up during the meeting, Jankowski replied that there is a "similar situation right now (as Rogers' wife, Paula, also is an attorney in Genesee County) and it's working just fine."

Burns, when informed of Bialkowski’s comments, expressed a measure of surprise.

“Let me say this. We’re all grown people and lawyers are litigators and advocates for their perspective positions and I understand my function – my function is a part-time judge,” he said. “I am not the elected judge. I am there to adhere what the Office of Court Administration expects of me to be fair and impartial and to support the full-time judge and providing coverage of the court – dealing with conflict issues that the judge might have. And if he steers it my way, it’s my obligation to take care of those cases.”

Burns said it was “unfortunate” that Bialkowski feels that way, but “there certainly is no conflict from my perspective.”

In other action, Council passed the following resolutions:

  • Contracts with Empire Access for $3,500 to connect city facilities with fiber internet and $8,400 annually for a five-year service agreement;
  • Granting of access to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to perform environmental cleanup work at 267 Bank St., a small parcel of the Dwyer Stadium property;
  • $114,720 contract with Architectural Resources of Buffalo for engineering services in connection with the Jackson Square renovation project, one of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative awards;
  • Appointments of Ryan Duffy and Connie Boyd to three-year terms as members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Council set to vote on part-time City Court judge position tonight

By Mike Pettinella

Batavia City Council is expected to vote tonight to fill the vacant part-time City Court judge position.

Council President Eugene Jankowski said today that the board met on Friday in executive session to consider candidates for the position, coming to a consensus but not taking an official vote.

He said that is on the agenda for the Conference/Business meetings set for 7 o’clock at the City Centre Council Board Room.

“We did it the same way we proceeded the previous times (to fill vacant justice positions),” Jankowski said. “Then we made sure to check that the person was still interested, and we will conduct an official vote tonight.”

It is believed there were at least two persons interested in the post, but Jankowski would not reveal any names. The position carries a six-year term, effective Jan. 1.

The vacancy occurred upon the Oct. 29 death of David Saleh, who was appointed as part-time City Court judge in December 2019.

In other developments, Council is expected to consider:

  • A resolution authorizing a contract with Empire Access, headquartered in Prattsburgh, to provide the city with secure fiber internet to connect all facilities at a cost of $3,500 and for a service agreement for five years at an annual cost of $8,400.

Empire Access was one of nine companies to respond to a request for proposal from the city, which, according to Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, is experiencing slow connection speeds and connectivity problems with its current point-to-point/multipoint radio-controlled wireless system.

Tabelski said the other firms that submitted bids were First Light, Granite, NetWolves, Nitel, Marchese Computer Products, Spectrotel, Spectrum and TDSUSA.Net.

  • A resolution to give access to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to a small parcel of the Dwyer Stadium property at 267 Bank St. for environmental contamination cleanup in connection with remedial work at the Batavia Iron and Metal site next door at 301 Bank St.
  • A resolution to enter into a contract for $114,720 with Architectural Resources of Buffalo for engineering services for the $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative to renovate and enhance the Jackson Square entertainment venue.

David Saleh, dedicated attorney, judge, civic leader, succumbs to cancer

By Mike Pettinella

David J. Saleh, well-known attorney, judge and community volunteer, died on Thursday after a short battle with brain cancer, leaving behind many heartbroken colleagues and friends. He was 67 years old.

“As my former partner (with Oshlag, Saleh & Earl), Dave was an excellent attorney in all areas of the law, and especially liked the challenge of criminal law and criminal trials,” said Kevin Earl, current Genesee County attorney, as he fought back the tears. “More importantly, he was an outstanding human being – very involved in his community through civic activities.”

Saleh lived in the Village of Corfu for many years before relocating to the city in 2013. Last December, he was appointed as part-time City Court judge, filling the vacancy created by former part-time Justice Durin Rogers’ election to the full-time post.

Both Rogers and Paula L. Feroleto, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District in Buffalo, expressed their sadness at Saleh’s passing.

“The City of Batavia and our community have experienced a great loss,” Rogers said. “I will very much miss my friend and colleague Judge David Saleh. Judge Saleh had a passion for the law and was highly regarded by his friends and colleagues on the bench and bar.

“He strove to be just and compassionate, treating people who came before him with fairness. I learned from him both as an attorney and a judge. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Feroleto said that the “judges and nonjudicial employees at Batavia City Court and the Genesee County Courthouse will very much miss Judge Saleh.”

“During his brief tenure as a Batavia City Court Judge, he was a diligent, hard-working jurist,” she said. “He enjoyed a reputation of being kind to the staff at the court. Despite experiencing personal health challenges, he continued his work on the bench to serve the public in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was a consummate professional and will be missed by the Court.”

Prior to accepting the city judge position, Saleh served as the City of Batavia Republican Committee chair.

“Dave was just a great asset to this community, and not only respected by Republicans, but also by many of our Democratic friends,” said Richard Siebert, chairman of the Genesee County Republican Party. “He was so dedicated – fund raising for the party and instrumental in getting great candidates for the City of Batavia.”

Siebert said he was impressed by Saleh’s dedication to any cause that he supported.

“He was so active. Some people get in and then get out, but when Dave got into something, he stuck with it,” said Siebert, also mentioning that Saleh was a well-respected attorney and served as party chairman for the Town of Batavia for many years.

Saleh had been a lawyer for more than 40 years, with experience in various disciplines, including being both a defense attorney and prosecutor as well as practicing corporate and municipal law.

Saleh, vice president/general counsel for Inlighten Inc., of Clarence, also was involved in several community and civic organizations, including president of the Batavia Lions Club and was recognized for his volunteer efforts to support the residents of Corfu.

In September, he was honored by the Village of Corfu with the dedication of a new bench at the village hall.

As indicated in a story on The Batavian, Saleh used his legal expertise to help the village and the volunteer fire department. In 1995, he helped lead the effort to create a fire district to support the department and relieve the village of the expense. He's volunteered with the department for more than 40 years.

Three months earlier, Corfu volunteer firefighters supported Saleh in his fight against cancer by conducting a parade past his home and showing off their new fire engine tanker.

Telephone calls to Corfu Mayor Tom Sargent for comment on Saleh’s passing were not returned at the time of the posting of this story.

Saleh is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and four children. His obituary can be found by clicking on the Obituaries tab at the top of this page.

Council appoints Saleh to part-time City Court judge position

By Mike Pettinella

Longtime attorney David Saleh was appointed as part-time City of Batavia Court judge tonight, filling the vacancy created by former part-time justice Durin Rogers’ election to the full-time post in November.

City Council members, at the close of their Business Meeting at City Hall Council Chambers, unanimously voted in favor of Saleh’s hiring, which takes effect on Jan. 1, for a six-year term.

“First of all, I’m honored and very grateful to the City Council for having selected me to this position,” said Saleh, who noted that he will preside over the court primarily on Wednesdays and Fridays. “I am very excited to work with Judge (Durin) Rogers and to follow the direction this court has been going for many years under Judge (Robert) Balbick and Judge Rogers.”

Saleh, 66, has been a lawyer for more than 40 years and has experience in various disciplines, including being both a defense attorney and prosecutor as well as practicing corporate and municipal law.

He lived in Corfu for many years before relocating to the City in 2013.

Saleh, vice president/general counsel for Inlighten Inc., of Clarence, also has been involved in community and civic organizations, most notably as president of the Batavia Lions Club.

He has served as the City Republican Committee chairperson in recent years, a position that he will have to relinquish to avoid any conflict-of-interest issues. It is believed that Richard Richmond will assume the committee chair post.

Saleh said fairness and professionalism are the cornerstones of a successful judge.

“I think the main thing that has always been my focus -- and I’ve had a lot of experience in the courts – is to be very fair and professional with the people that come in front of me,” he said.

“I have a lot of experience and I hope to impart some of that to the attorneys who come to court with their clients to seek justice and deal with various problems that come up to people who are using the system.”

In other action, Council unanimously approved resolutions:

-- Authorizing an additional police officer position that will allow for the new hire to be trained in light of the January 2020 retirements of Assistant Chief Todd Crossett and Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora, and the City’s agreement with the Batavia City School District to provide a School Resource Officer beginning with the 2020-21 school year.

-- Appropriating $50,000 from the Facilities Reserve Fund to conduct a feasibility study – including predesign work – for a new police station at the northwest corner of Bank Street and Alva Place. Currently, the reserve fund has a balance of $298,000.

-- Acceptance of a $1 million Empire State Development Corporation Downtown Revitalization Initiative reimbursement grant to renovate the City Centre concourse, with improvements to be made to the roof, floor tiles and entrances.

City Manager Martin Moore said the state will reimburse the City at the end of the project, which means that short-term bonds may be needed to cover the ongoing costs.

“This is a major piece of the City’s efforts to upgrade the concourse and create positive economic opportunities for micro-business enterprises,” Moore wrote in a memo to City Council.

-- Ratifying the new 40-year sales tax allocation agreement with Genesee County, per requirements set by the state Comptroller’s office. The amended contract begins on Jan. 1.

-- Appointing citizens to the Youth Board (David Twichell, Paula Fischer and Kathryn Fitzpatrick) and Deer Management Committee (Russell Nephew Jr., Kent Klotzbach, Frederick Gundell, Samuel DiSalvo and Gus Galliford).

-- Contracting with Genesee County for prosecutorial services with the City paying $73,719 for 2020 and $76,219 for 2021.

Additionally, Public Works Director Matt Worth reported that crews are targeting this Thursday and Friday, depending upon the weather, to continue residential leaf pickup. Worth also said that the City yard waste station will remain open through Dec. 16.


City Council President Eugene Jankowski, right, reads a proclamation commending local and regional law enforcement personnel for their cooperative efforts during a 20-hour standoff on Nov. 18-19 on Liberty Street in the City.

The proclamation thanked all agencies that assisted City Police and for resolving the situation in a safe manner.

From left are City Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano, Monroe County Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Wagner, NYS DEC Officer Fay Fuerch, DPW Director Matt Worth, Genesee County Dispatch Deputy Director Frank Riccobono, State Police Capt. David Forsythe, State Police Sgt. Ben Fasano, City Police Sgt. Chris Camp, City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Jankowski.

Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Retired Batavia City Court Judge Michael DelPlato endorses Ben Bonarigo for judgeship

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and press release:

Retired Batavia City Court Judge Michael DelPlato has endorsed Ben Bonarigo for the City of Batavia judgeship.

“I ask that you support and vote for Ben Bonarigo,” DelPlato said. “I have been blessed to practice law here in Batavia for 47 years and privileged to serve as Batavia City Judge for 12 years.

"I have known Ben since he was a student at the Batavia Middle School. Ben is the most experienced trial attorney in this area and is offering those skills to the citizens of Batavia.”

DelPlato also mentions that Bonarigo “...has served as City attorney, has trial experience in civil, criminal, family and municipal law, which includes extensive experience in jury trials. What a rare and unique opportunity for our voters to elect such an outstanding candidate.”

Bonarigo responded: “This endorsement, coming from a former Judge who spent 12 years in the position I am seeking, who knows what the qualifications and background requirements are for the position is truly humbling.

Added Bonarigo, “coming from such a highly regarded judge, attorney and gentleman as Mike DelPlato makes this endorsement that much more gratifying to me.”

(Photo: Retired Batavia City Court Judge Michael DelPlato, left, and city judgeship candidate Ben Bonarigo.)

Senator Michael Ranzenhofer endorses Durin Rogers' bid to become full-time Batavia City Court judge

By Billie Owens

Above, part-time Batavia City Court Judge Durin Rogers, left, and Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer.

Submitted photo and press release:

New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer has given an enthusiastic boost to Judge Durin Rogers in his effort to succeed retiring Judge Robert Balbick as Batavia’s next full-time City Court Judge.

Senator Ranzenhofer has represented Batavia and Genesee County since 2008 and has been a practicing lawyer for more than 35 years.

“This coming November 5th you have an opportunity to elect a Batavia City Court Judge with proven judicial experience, integrity, judicial temperament and commitment to the community," Ranzenhofer said. "It is for these reasons that I proudly support Hon. Durin B. Rogers in his effort to become your next full-time Batavia City Court Judge.

"I have known Judge Rogers for many years now as an attorney and colleague practicing law throughout the GLOW region and most recently as (part-time) judge of the Batavia City Court…He is well respected on and off the bench and I have had the opportunity to appear in front of Judge Rogers on the bench and opposite him as deputy county attorney for Genesee County. I found Judge Rogers’ approach in both capacities to be professional, knowledgeable, reasonable and fair.”

Senator Ranzenhofer also stressed Rogers’ community service, saying: “In addition to his service as a public attorney, he has served the legal community and its members as a past president of the Genesee County Bar Association bringing the 'People’s Law Series,'…to provide low cost legal education and seminars to the residents of Genesee County.

"...Judge Rogers has and will continue to be a fair judge and listen to all sides before making well-reasoned decisions…Please join me in supporting Judge Durin B. Rogers as your next full-time Batavia City Court judge."

Responding to the Ranzenhofer endorsement, Rogers said: “I truly appreciate Senator Ranzenhofer’s comments and his support. Over the past many years, the Batavia City Court has become a well-respected part of our system of justice.

"I have worked with Judge Balbick over the past four years and we are always considering ways to improve the court’s ability to meet Batavia’s evolving needs. I am committed to carrying on those efforts in the years to come if elected as Batavia’s next full-time judge.”

Veterans Service Agency director endorses Durin Rogers for city court judge

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and press release:

William R. Joyce, (above left) director of Genesee County’s Veterans Service Agency and a prominent advocate for veterans throughout the GLOW Region, has endorsed current part-time Judge Durin Rogers in his quest to become Batavia’s next full-time City Court Judge.

“As the director of the Genesee County Veterans Service Agency, I participate in the Veterans Treatment Court and I have seen Judge Rogers approach on the bench," Joce said. "Judge Rogers always appears to be just, fair and balanced, unbiased and impartial. His demeanor is perfect for the position.

"Judge Rogers always thanks every veteran for their service…is always on time and this is extremely important to those appearing before the bench…I have experienced Judge Rogers' handling cases in Veterans Court with knowledge, fairness, compassion and an open mind. Judge Rogers does not rush to judgement but instead listens to all sides before rendering a decision.

"...The Veterans appear to respond to Judge Rogers’ approach and they walk out of the courtroom with a full understanding of their responsibilities going forward.”

Joyce also praised Rogers’ dedication and commitment to his family and community in making his endorsement.

“I know Judge Rogers’ wife [local attorney Paula Campbell] as well," Joyce said. "They are great family people who are well known in the community.  Judge Rogers is a family man, dedicated and devoted to his family as well as to community involvement.

"Judge Rogers has volunteered for many civic boards and has helped so many people in his community…I fully support, highly recommend and endorse Judge Rogers as the next full time Batavia City Court Judge as the most qualified candidate.” 

Following the endorsement, Judge Rogers said, “I am extremely honored to have the support and endorsement of this amazing man who not only fought for our country, but today fights for the rights of those who have and continue to serve our nation. I look forward to continue to work with Bill and the Veterans Treatment Court…”

Rogers has been serving as the part-time City Court Judge for more than four years, following his unanimous appointment by Batavia City Council. He is seeking election to the full-time City Court position to succeed the retiring Judge, Robert Balbick.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5th. For further information, please contact the Committee to Elect Judge Rogers by visiting its Facebook page at @electjudgerogers (; by visiting;  or by email at

NY Police Investigators Association endorses Durin Rogers for full-time city court judgeship

By Billie Owens

Submitted photo and information:

Part-time Batavia City Court Judge Durin Rogers has received the endorsement of the New York Police Investigators Association supporting his effort to become Batavia’s next full-time city court judge, citing his experience and years of public service.

NYSPIA represents more than 2,000 active and retired State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation officers.

Association President Christopher Quick and Troop A Delegate Michael J. Connors stated in a letter to Rogers:

“It is with great pride that we support your candidacy for City of Batavia Court Judge. For almost four years, you have served on the bench…following a unanimous appointment by the Batavia City Council.

"During that time you have had the opportunity to handle thousands of cases, including criminal, civil, housing, drug court and Veterans Court; gaining valuable experience throughout."

Quick and Connors also noted Rogers’ “successful, long-term career as a prosecutor with the Genesee County Attorney’s Office, handling family offense domestic violence petitions…juvenile delinquency petitions, pistol permit hearings and child abuse and neglect filings.

"The New York State Police Investigators Association appreciates your years of service and our membership has great confidence in your ability and foresight…we offer our full support in your candidacy.” 

Rogers said: “I am honored and grateful to the New York State Police Investigators Association for their endorsement. Their support, along with the many other public officials and community members who have supported me in my effort to become Batavia’s next City Court Judge, only serves to confirm my commitment to our great community.

"As I canvass this great City and visit with our local citizens, I continue to listen to the people and their concerns and issues with our system of Justice. If elected, I look forward to serving this community faithfully, professionally and with the highest standard of excellence and ethics."

For further information, please contact the Committee to Elect Judge Rogers by visiting their Facebook page @electjudgerogers (; by visiting;  or by email at

(Photo: Full-time Batavia City Court judge candidate Durin Rogers, left, with Michael J. Connors, Troop “A” Delegate for the New York State Police Investigators Association.)

Current and former DSS commissioners endorse Durin Rogers in his bid to become full-time city court judge

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Genesee County Department of Social Services Commissioner David Rumsey and his predecessor Eileen Kirkpatrick have joined the group of local dignitaries supporting Durin Rogers’ bid to become Batavia’s next full-time City Court Judge.

Both have worked directly with Rogers, who is also Deputy Genesee County Attorney, representing DSS in countless court proceedings, many involving the protection of the youth and families of Genesee County.

Both Rumsey and Kirkpatrick praised Rogers’ diligence and legal knowledge in giving their endorsement.  

“Judge Rogers is an intelligent and motivated individual," Rumsey said. "The work he does representing the County and the Department of Social Services is meticulous. He demonstrates a firmness, but fairness in his work ethic…His knowledge of the law is superior.

"One page cannot adequately sum up everything that Judge Rogers means to Genesee County and this community. Elect him and you will see. I highly recommend Judge Durin B. Rogers be elected as the next full-time Batavia City Court Judge.”  

Kirkpatrick, who retired in 2017 and worked closely with Rogers for many years, said “Judge Rogers’ attention to detail and his consideration of all aspects of each case were impartial and comprehensive. While he established a clear record of holding offenders accountable, he never wavered in considering how the resolution of each case would impact the victim, offender, families and our community.

"The deciding factor…is that Judge Rogers has already spent the last four years as your part-time judge. He has already overcome and surpassed the learning curve necessary to perform the job and to conduct court on time as a fair and balanced judge.”

GC Conservative Party announces endorsements for 2019 election

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Today, Feb. 23, at its County Committee meeting, the Genesee County Conservative Party announced the following endorsements for office in the November 2019 elections.
Batavia City Court
  • Judge Durin Rogers for Batavia City Court Judge

The committee had also interviewed Benjamin Bonarigo for City Court Judge. And while he and Durin Rogers both have an excellent record, we decided that Judge Rogers had more experience as a judge already. Except for Judge Rogers, all our endorsements are for incumbents who have had our support in the past.

Genesee County County Legislature
  • Gordon Dibble, District 3 (Pembroke and Darien)
  • Andrew Young, District 4 (Town of Batavia and Stafford)
  • Rochelle Stein, District 5 (LeRoy)
  • Gregg Torrey, District 6 (Alexander, Bethany and Pavilion)
  • John Deleo, District 7 (City of Batavia wards 1 & 6)
  • Marianne Clattenburg, District 8 (City of Batavia wards 2 & 3)
  • Gary Maha, District 9 (City of Batavia wards 4 & 5)
City of Batavia Council
  • Paul Viele, City Ward 1
  • Al McGinnis, City Ward 4
  • Kathy Briggs, City Ward 5

Press release:

The Committee to Elect Judge Rogers is proud to announce that Judge Durin Rogers, Batavia City Court judge, has received the endorsement of the Genesee County Conservative Party for the full-time Batavia City Court position up for election in the fall.

Following the Conservative Party Committee meeting and candidate interviews, the Genesee County Conservative Vice Chairman John Roach said, “We found Judge Rogers to be exceptionally well qualified and he is already a sitting judge—he received the Committee’s unanimous endorsement and we look forward to seeing Judge Rogers on the bench. We encourage all conservative voters to support Judge Rogers throughout the entire process.”

After receiving news of the endorsement, Judge Rogers said, “I am honored to have received the Genesee County Conservative Party’s endorsement for Batavia City Court Judge and I am very thankful for their support. I will continue to work hard for the residents of the City of Batavia.

"As a judge, my commitment is to fairly and impartially apply the law to all of the people of Batavia. Over the coming months, I look forward to talking to the people of Batavia and getting to know them better."  

Judge Rogers’ is now officially endorsed by City of Batavia Republican Committee and the Genesee County Conservative Party. This April will mark Judge Rogers entering his fifth year on the Batavia City Court bench.

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