The outgoing Peekskill Common Council is waiting for a decision on whether it has the authority to choose the city’s next judge.
Days after Judge William Maher went to court to prevent the council from appointing his potential replacement, a state Supreme Court judge postponed making a decision in the case on Thursday.
The issue stems from whether the sitting council can make an appointment before Maher’s term as city judge expires on Dec. 31. If not, the new council would be tasked with appointing a judge to the Peekskill City Court when it takes office in January.
“It’s disappointing someone would sue the city, and cost taxpayers because he didn’t get picked,” said Councilman Darren Rigger. “So for the last 100 years, when you have an appointment that starts on Jan. 1, the municipality does a search beforehand and crafts a resolution. This is standard operating procedure.”
The current all-Democrat council was prepared on Monday to hand the full-time, 10-year post to Reginald Johnson – an attorney with party ties who was at the center of a near-brawl earlier this year. Republican mayor-elect Frank Catalina has called the appointment of Johnson an abuse of power by the Democrats on the council, a characterization rejected by Rigger.
The appointment was prevented, however, after Judge James Rooney issued a temporary restraining order, a ban he kept in place on Thursday as he mulls a decision.
John Hersh, an attorney for Maher, told The Journal News that Judge Rooney said his decision would be issued as quickly as possible.
“It’s not political and it’s not personal,” Hersh said on Tuesday of his client’s decision to take the matter to court. “He’s the last judge to have sour grapes about something like this. It’s really a question of whether the rules have been followed.”