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City Court

June 26, 2019 - 10:48am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Court, batavia, news.

Durin Rogers, running to move up from part-time City Court judge to full-time, won the Republican primary vote Tuesday, beating attorney Ben Bonarigo, 644 votes to 396 votes.

Rogers also won on the primary lines for Conservative and Independence by 43-16 and 48-34, respectively.

Though Bonarigo was unable to win the Republican line for the general election in November, he will still appear on the ballot on the Democratic line.  

Bonarigo faced no challenge for the Democratic line.

May 17, 2019 - 6:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Durin Rogers, City Court, video.

 

Video Sponsor

 

Thursday evening, Judge Durin Rogers, and one of two candidates for the full-time City Court judge position held a "coffee and conversation" event at the Holland Land Office Museum.

Since we haven't had a chance to cover Rogers at a public event since the campaign started, and we did cover Benjamin Bonarigo's campaign kickoff, including a short video interview, we wanted to be sure to provide Rogers with similar coverage.

We wound up with a 10-minute interview with Rogers and decided to post the entire interview.

Rogers hosts another "coffee and conversation" event at the Richmond Memorial Library on May 25 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

To view our previous coverage of Bonarigo's campaign kick-off, click here.

April 5, 2019 - 9:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Court, news, batavia.

Press release:

Citizens to elect Ben Bonarigo for City Court Judge are pleased to announce that the required signatures have been collected to qualify him the for Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Green and Independence lines on the ballot for the June 25th primary election. Bonarigo submitted more than 1,100 signatures.

“I can’t thank everyone enough,” Bonarigo said. “Our volunteers and supporters carried petitions in some very difficult weather conditions to achieve our goal and they did it very quickly. We had a highly dedicated and fantastic team of individuals.”

Although our judges are elected, the job they do is not a political one. They are to remain impartial, unbiased and not beholden to any political party. Bonarigo’s willingness and determination to obtain primary ballot status for all party lines demonstrates his commitment to fairness and impartiality to all the citizens in the City of Batavia regardless of their party affiliation.

"My goal is to allow as many city voters as possible, a choice in deciding who will be their next judge,” he said. 

February 18, 2019 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ben Bonarigo, City Court, batavia, news.

1550519025894_20190209_111635.jpg

Press release:

City of Batavia Democrats announce the endorsement of Benjamin Bonarigo Sr. for full-time City Court Judge.

The City of Batavia Democratic Committee voted unanimously to endorse Benjamin Bonarigo Sr. for full-time City Court Judge at their endorsement meeting on Feb. 5th.

Of the endorsement, Chair of the City of Batavia Democratic Committee Erica O’Donnell said, “Mr. Bonarigo’s resume speaks for itself. He is beyond qualified for this position, but beyond that he exhibits a deep commitment to service in our community.”

Bonarigo said: “I am truly honored to have received the support of the City of Batavia Democratic Party and I promise to work hard, just as I have done everyday for the past 36 years of my legal career, to earn the trust and support of the voters in this election.

"I hope to live up to the faith the Democratic Party has shown in me and to make all voters proud to vote for me as the next Batavia City Court Judge. I pledge to be a fair and impartial jurist in every case, listening to the voice of every person that comes before me.”

Aside from establishing his own successful legal practice in the City of Batavia, Bonarigo has serve on many boards, committees and volunteer organizations. He has been involved in youth football, Mock Trial, Literacy Genesee/Orleans, Notre Dame High School Foundation Board and Board of Trustees, the Holland Land Office Museum, Genesee Community College Board of Trustees, and The Twenty-Five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc.

O’Donnell says, “Ben is the perfect example of a public servant and I’m honored to support him. I’m in no way shocked that he received such a warm response from our committee.”

February 9, 2019 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Ben Bonarigo, news, City Court, notify.

 

Video Sponsor

 

Contested elections for judicial seats are rare but voters in the City of Batavia are faced with one in 2019.

Durin Rogers and Ben Bonarigo are vying for the full-time City Court judge position, which becomes open next year because of the mandatory retirement of Judge Robert Balbick.

Saturday morning, Bonarigo officially kicked off his campaign in front of about 200 supporters at City Church's Generation Center on Center Street downtown.

"I think that I've got the experience," Bonarigo said when asked about his qualifications. "Thirty-six years practicing law in the trenches, representing people every day with various civil and criminal cases. I know the rules of evidence.

"I know how to behave in a courtroom, and I know how a judge should act. I've got the right temperament, the ability to listen, the ability to hear everybody who comes before you, to be impartial and fair."

If elected, Bonarigo promised that everybody who came before his bench would be treated fairly.

To get elected, he will have to beat Rogers, who is already a part-time City Court judge and has the City Republicans' endorsement.

But that endorsement doesn't guarantee Rogers the R-line in November.

Bonarigo and his campaign team, led by Nikki Calhoun, are planning a petition drive to force a Republican primary in June. The winner of that June 25th election will win the R-line in the November election.

If Bonarigo were to lose the primary, he could still face off against Rogers in November on the Democratic line.

January 24, 2019 - 11:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Benjamin J. Bonarigo, Sr, batavia, news, City Court.

Press release:

Benjamin J. Bonarigo Sr., a City of Batavia attorney, has announced his candidacy for Batavia City Court Judge. A lifelong resident of Batavia, Bonarigo is seeking to be elected to the position being vacated at the end of 2019 by the retirement of the Hon. Robert J. Balbick, who reaches mandatory retirement age.

Bonarigo and his wife, Diane, a retired City of Batavia elementary school principal, have made the City their home, where they raised three children, two of whom continue to reside within the City with their families.

A 1975 graduate of Batavia High School, Bonarigo attended Genesee Community College, while working in his family’s restaurant, attaining an AS Degree in General Studies in 1977 and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management, cum laude, from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1979. He furthered his education by attaining his law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 1982 and was admitted to the practice law in New York State in 1983.

During his practice, Bonarigo has acted as the attorney for: the City of Batavia, the Town of Batavia, the Village of Oakfield and the Village of Oakfield Central School District.

At the start of his career, Bonarigo worked in the Genesee County Public Defender’s Office where he worked part-time while at the same time establishing, over the next 37 years, a flourishing legal practice, which is now known as Bonarigo & McCutcheon. He has practiced in all areas of civil and criminal law all over Western New York and beyond.

While practicing law, Bonarigo has been very committed to his profession, having been appointed to the Appellate Division 4th Department Grievance Committee for six years, during which time he, along with others, sat to review the ethical behavior of attorneys from all over Western New York.

He was also appointed to the Independent Judicial Qualification Commission for the 8th Judicial District on which he participated in the review, and rating, of candidates for judicial offices in all of Western New York courts. He is a longtime member of the New York State Bar Association to which he was a delegate representing the attorneys of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties during State meetings.

He has been a member in good standing with the Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Bar associations, serving as president of the Genesee County Bar. During his tenure as president of the Bar Association, Bonarigo implemented an attorney-reading-with-students program in the elementary school in the Batavia City School District.

In addition to his commitment to the legal profession, Bonarigo has been highly involved in civic matters in the City of Batavia. He has been: a coach and been a member of the Board of Batavia Youth Football; a client tutor and member of the Board of Literacy Genesee/Orleans; a member of the Notre Dame High School Foundation Board; a member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees; a member of the Board of the Holland Land Office Museum; and a Mock Trial judge for many years.

Bonarigo is currently a member of the Board of Trustees at Genesee Community College, having been appointed by the Governor in 2011. He, along with his co-board members have overseen a significant expansion of the campus facilities. He is also a member of the Twenty-Five Neediest Children’s Fund Inc., which financially assists students and families within the Batavia City School District.

For his civic efforts, Bonarigo was been inducted in 2011 to the Genesee Community College Hall of Fame; granted an honorary diploma from Notre Dame High School in 2010; and was recognized as a Friend of the ARC in 2013.

“With my breadth of professional experience, love and commitment for the City of Batavia, its residents, including my family, neighbors and friends, I feel that I am uniquely qualified and I am the best-suited candidate to be elected to the City Court bench," Bonarigo said.

"It will be with great pride, impartiality, humility, and compassion that I will sit daily making judgments that continue to better our community. I look forward to the challenges ahead in this election process and look forward in the next several months as I reconnect with old acquaintances and, making new ones, as I seek your support for this position.” 

January 24, 2019 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Durin Rogers, City Court, news, batavia.

Press release:

Today Durin Rogers, attorney and City of Batavia part-time judge, announced his candidacy for the full-time Judge of the Batavia City Court post that will become vacant at the end of this year.  Judge Rogers would be running to replace current City Court Judge Robert Balbick, who will retire after reaching mandatory retirement age.

Judge Rogers has served as the part-time Batavia City Court judge for almost four years following his unanimous appointment by Batavia City Council in 2015. 

“I am excited to officially announce I will be seeking the full-time Batavia City Court judgeship this coming November...," said Judge Rogers.  “I made this decision because I sincerely believe that I have the qualifications, experience, and commitment to our community that the residents of the City of Batavia deserve.” 

During his past four years on the bench, Judge Rogers has handled all types of cases within the court's jurisdiction including civil, criminal, small claims, housing code violations and even matters in the drug court and veteran's courts. He has championed effective service to the community including cochairing the Centralized Arraignment Part Program (CAP), a program designed to assist in the timely arraignment and representation of Defendants in criminal proceedings.  He has spear-headed the efficient processing of housing code violations and established a protocol to effectively and timely deal with "zombie" properties neglected by non-local corporations and owners.

“Each of these responsibilities comes with difficult decisions that impact the lives of those before the Court and those in our community," Judge Rogers said. "A judge’s legal background and experience, commitment to the community, and character are essential to making fair and honest decisions while holding offenders accountable."

Judge Rogers has dedicated his almost 25-year legal career to public service, including volunteering with the Public Defender's Office and handling assigned counsel matters throughout the GLOW region in criminal and family courts.  He has served as an attorney in the Genesee County Attorney's office since 1995, where he was lead prosecutor for juvenile delinquency proceedings for more than 20 years; and handled all types of matters within the office including domestic violence/family offense matters; abuse and neglect proceedings; and contractual negotiations for the Genesee County Public Radio system.

Judge Rogers has extensive experience in electronic evidence particularly in admission of social media. He has been a frequent speaker in this area across New York State.

“As more and more individuals integrate this form of electronic communication into their lives, my unique knowledge of this area of law will be of great value to the Batavia City Court Bench,” added Judge Rogers.

“It is with this background, having been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and now a judge, that I believe I have the unique qualifications and legal experience to understand and administer justice in the City of Batavia so that all residents of our community feel safe and are treated fairly… I will do so with integrity, respect and the temperament that a judge must have when hearing cases fairly, each day, every day,” Judge Rogers said.

Judge Rogers commitment and passion for public service extends beyond the court system. Over the years, Judge Rogers frequently volunteered his time and commitment to coach youth sports including baseball and basketball for more than 15 years.  He assisted in bringing the "Youth Court" to Genesee County. He was a founding board member of Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County; a volunteer Budget Ambassador for the Batavia City Schools District; an appointed member of the Batavia City Youth Board; a member of the original Board of Ethics for the City of Batavia; and a member of the City of Batavia Police Facility Task Force.

Other volunteer activities included being an attorney for the Surrogate’s Decision-Making Committee (SDMC), and president of the Genesee County Bar Association (GCBA), during which time he collaborated with the Genesee Community College to bring a new program to Genesee County known as the “People’s Law Series,” a biannual symposium designed to educate and guide the public in topical areas of law.”

Judge Rogers lives with his wife, Paula, and their four children in the City of Batavia. His family has resided in Batavia for almost 18 years and are proud to call Batavia home. Rogers is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Law; and received his Juris Doctor legal degree from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.

April 21, 2015 - 11:01am
posted by James Burns in batavia, City Court.

In front of a filled courtroom and his family Durin B. Rogers, Esq., was sworn in as Batavia City judge this morning.  

Genesee County Court Judge Robert C. Noonan sworn in Judge Rogers as his wife held the Bible for them.

In a brief statement afterward, Judge Rogers thanked his family, the Batavia City Council and the employees of the court system, saying “I thank all of you and look forward to seeing you soon. ... Just not in court for a speeding ticket.” 

April 2, 2015 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, County Attorney, City Court.

Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the Genesee County Legislature, and himself an attorney, wishes Durin Rogers all the best as the new Batavia City Court Judge, but also expressed disappointment that Rogers sought the job in the first place

Speaking during a Ways and Means Committee meeting Wednesday, Cianfrini said it was his impression that when Rogers took an assistant county attorney position, he was setting himself up to eventually become the county attorney.

Now he's no so sure.

"It seems to me he's using the county to advance his own position," Cianfrini said. "I'm not going to stand in his way, but I think being a city court judge hurts him when it comes time to consider a new county attorney."

Granted, the current county attorney, Charles Zambito, has no apparent immediate plans to step down, but Cianfrini said he was under the impression Rogers was given duties and responsibilities commensurate with gaining the experience necessary to eventually replace Zambito.

Zambito said Rogers has certainly filled an important role, one that should continue in his department, of being prepared to step in as county attorney if Zambito was unavailable.

Rogers was appointed City Court judge last week by the Batavia City Council to replace Michael Del Plato, a Cianfrini law partner, who retired from the judge position at the end of his term.

Rogers is on vacation and an assistant said there was no way to reach him to get his comment on the sudden controversy over his new appointment.

The discussion came up while Zambito introduced a resolution to adjust Rogers' position from full-time to part-time.

As a City Court judge, Rogers will be required to be in court at least one day a week, which means he won't be available to the county on those does.

His hours are being reduced from 37.5 hours per week to 30 hours per week. That means he will now be paid $66,494 a year by the county, instead of $83,118, a payroll savings for the county of $18,624.

State law also prohibits judges from acting as prosecutors in criminal matters. As part of Rogers county ties, Rogers has handled cases in family court involving under-age offenders and PINS (persons in need of supervision) cases, which while technically civil cases, are also considered criminal prosecutions.

Assistant County Attorney Paula Campbell will assume that case load and Rogers will take over her duties handling abuse and neglect cases and termination of parental rights.

February 18, 2015 - 4:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, City Court.

Press release:

The City Council is seeking to fill a part-time City Court Judge position. This position is appointed by City Council to serve a six (6) year term and will be effective April 21, 2015. Minimum qualifications require candidates to be an attorney admitted to practice law in the State of New York for at least five (5) years as of the date he or she commences the duties of the office and must be a resident of the City of Batavia.

All interested candidates please submit a letter of interest by Feb. 28, 2015 to:

City Court Judge

Attn: City Council President Brooks Hawley

One Batavia City Centre

Batavia, New York 14020

October 27, 2010 - 11:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Court.

lindaretirement.jpg

More than 100 members of the local legal and law enforcement community were at Bohn's tonight to pay tribute to Linda Giambrone, who is retiring after 39 years of service as a clerk at City Court.

Giambrone started her career in 1971 and became chief clerk in 1976.

Speakers praised Giambrone for her knowledge of the court system, her memory for repeat offenders and her kindness toward all the people she came in contact with.

Above, judges Michael Del Plato, left, and Robert Balbick present her with a certificate of appreciation.

August 11, 2010 - 3:06pm

Corona_Degnan8-11.JPG

As one reporter phrased it: "She wants to plead guilty, but doesn't want to admit to the crime."

Suzanne Corona did plea guilty to Public Lewdness in Batavia City Court today, and did have the charge of Adultery dropped. But it took an awful lot of work to get to that point.

Corona entered the Genesee County Courts facility early this afternoon, dressed in a pastel green suit and stiletto-heeled sandals. When Judge Michael Del Plato called her name just before 2 o'clock, she walked up to the stand beside her lawyer, Brian Degnan.

(Recorders are not allowed in City Court; quotes hereforth from inside the courtroom are written from recollection and extensive written notes.)

Judge Del Plato asked what the status of the case was. Degnan announced that he'd acquired everything he needed from the prosecution -- and that Suzanne Corona was prepared to enter a plea. Prosecutor Robert Zickl agreed, noting the prosecution's proposal for Corona to plea guilty to Public Lewdness and be sentenced "on a no-jail basis."

Judge Del Plato then asked Corona if she was indeed prepared to enter a plea. "Yes," she said, "and I am doing so with the understanding that the adultery charge will be dropped."

Then came the plea...sort of.

Del Plato asked: "Do you admit that on June 4th, 2010, at approximately 5:15 p.m. in Farrall Park, that you did expose your private or intimate parts in a public place?"

"No, I did not," Corona replied.

Judge Del Plato seemed dumbfounded at this point. Looking from Zickl to Degnan with a slight smile, he wondered aloud: "I thought we had a disposition?"

Zickl said, "Your Honor, Ms. Corona has said that her intimate parts were not exposed in the public view. The prosecution is willing for her to admit to 'having sexual contact with another person,' which could easily be viewed by another as sexual intercourse."

After Degnan whispered something in Corona's ear, Del Plato tried again.

"Do you admit...that you did commit a lewd act with another person?"

"Yes," Corona replied. Del Plato continued, "And do you admit...that you did have sexual contact with another person?"

Corona replied, "No, Your Honor. I was engaged in an inappropriate act."

At this point, all four began talking to and talking over one another. At one point, Corona was heard to say, "I just want to say that I did not expose..."

But Del Plato had heard enough. He ordered Degnan and Corona out of the courtroom to speak with each other.

Three to four minutes later, they returned and sat together in the gallery as Del Plato heard several more cases. Returning to the stand, Degnan attempted to call Corona up beside him. Del Plato wasn't having it.

"No -- no. Mr. Degnan and Mr. Zickl, I want to speak with you first."

After a quick conference, proceedings resumed. Del Plato again asked Corona if she admitted to committing a lewd act with another person in Farrall Park.

"Yes," she replied.

"Great," Del Plato muttered, looking down.

Corona had apparently also asked Degnan to remind the courtroom that she'd remained clothed throughout the entire encounter at Farrall Park -- which he did.

Del Plato instructed Corona to return to City Court at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20 for sentencing, and with that -- save for the sentence -- Corona's legal matter was over. Outside the Genesee County Courthouse, Corona said she was happy to have the adultery charge dropped.

"I believe it's a private matter between husband and wife," she said. "And the government steps in your life in so many different areas...and everyone has a different type of marriage."

But Corona has not ruled out her prior intention: challenging the constitutionality of New York State's charge of Adultery.

"That's something we will discuss, and it's probably going to come up."

Degnan seems less enthusiastic.

"Sure, there's a challenge possible, but we were just concerned about having the adultery charge dismissed. We haven't even started preparing for that matter at this point, and we'll cross that bridge when the time comes."

When asked if she was happy to put it all behind her, it took Corona only one, sighed word to communicate it all: "Yes."

UPDATE: Just spoke to Prosecutor Robert Zickl as he walked past WBTA Studios. He confirmed that Justin Amend was offered a similar plea deal, and accepted it, contrary to what a City Court clerk told WBTA on Tuesday.

Photo: Suzanne Corona and Brian Degnan speak to reporters outside Genesee County Court.

August 10, 2010 - 4:26pm
posted by WBTA News in scott doll, City Court.

mug_scott_doll.jpgConvicted murderer Scott Doll will take his contraband case to a jury trial.

Doll appeared in Batavia City Court today, having been transported from a downstate prison. He sported a new buzz cut and clean-shaven moustache, wearing a bright white button-up shirt and khaki pants. He was handcuffed at the waist and escorted by state prison guards.

Doll is charged with Promoting Prison Contraband after allegedly trying to sneak powdered aspirin into the Genesee County Jail, following his murder conviction on July 2. Officers checking him in say they found it in a green balloon taped to Doll's buttocks.

Doll's attorney, Dan Killelea, told Judge Robert Balbick today that motions in the case have been completed, and that he and Doll are ready to take the case to trial. Judge Robert Balbick granted Killelea a date for jury selection: Monday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.

Outside the courtroom, Killelea he believes Doll will be acquitted of the charge.

"He obviously has a right to a trial, and he looks forward to exercising that," says Killelea. "Depsite the fact that he feels, and I feel, that he was wrongly convicted this last time (on the murder charge)...he's still clinging to a hope that the system works.

"I think he'll be exonerated after a trial."

Doll's mother and son were in the courtroom today to see him. They were accompanied by their pastor, according to Killelea.

At one point, Doll's mother could be heard to say, "I don't trust anything that happens in this building."

August 10, 2010 - 11:27am
posted by WBTA News in City Court, Farrall Park, picnic table.

justin_amend.jpgTwenty-nine-year-old Justin Amend, accused of having sex on a public park bench in Farrall Park, pleaded guilty to a charge of Public Lewdness yesterday in Batavia City Court.

Under section 245.00 of New York Penal Law, in pleading guilty to the misdemeanor public lewdness, Amend legally admits only to:

"...intentionally exposing the private or intimate parts of his body in a lewd manner or committing any other lewd act (a) in a public place, or (b) in private premises under circumstances in which he may readily be observed from either a public place or from other private premises, and with intent that he be so observed."

Thus, Amend does not specifically admit to having sex with Suzanne Corona on that picnic table in Farrall Park.

A plea deal is not part of Amend's guilty plea, according to city court clerks. City Court prosecutor Robert Zickl confirms that Amend did accept a plea deal, which ensures that he will not be sentenced to jail time.

Amend is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 19. The charge is a class B misdemeanor, meaning Amend could face a maximum of six months in jail.

Alleged partner Corona is due in Batavia City Court on Aug. 18 (Date was changed to Aug. 11).

July 28, 2010 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, City Court.

Peter Nasca will finally pay his debt to society.

For 26 years, the Florida resident has been tagged by Batavia City Court as a "scofflaw."

Since 1984, his New York license has been suspended and he's had an unpaid traffic ticket.

That hasn't stopped him from making his living as a truck driver, and even hauling loads through his former home state, but then he didn't know -- he says -- that he was a wanted man.

"All these years, nobody ever caught it," Nasca said after appearing in court. "Even when I do my FBI background check every year, they never caught it."

Apparently, law enforcement in Missouri is a little more on the ball. During a routine inspection of his rig, an officer said, "Oh, by the way, you can't drive in New York."

"What?" was Nasca's jaw-dropping response.

His Florida driver's license allowed him to drive in any state in the union, but New York wanted him to pay his fine, which is $180 for allegedly driving on a revoked driver's license in 1984.

Nasca, a native of Buffalo, was a Tonawanda resident at the time.

(Nasca is spelled like NASCAR, he said, "but without the money.")

Nasca did appear in City Court in 1984 and entered a not guilty plea. He eventually forgot about the charge and figured there was a statue of limitations on it. But there wasn't.

In 1984, Judge Robert Balbick was the prosecuting attorney in City Court, though he doesn't remember if he appeared on the Nasca case. Even so, he had to recuse himself, so Nasca's case was adjourned to Aug. 3, when Judge Michael Delplato can hear the matter.

As for his suspended license, he cleared that up today by filling out some paperwork. He didn't have to pay a fee because in 1984 there was no fee for a "Scoff."

City Court Clerk Linda Giambrone said there are scoff cases on file at City Court going back to the 1970s. They will never be purged and the scofflaws could still be hauled into court.

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