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Code, Sullivan to Face Off for Caucus Village Justice Endorsement

Briarcliff Manor voters can weigh in by voting in today's People's Caucus special meeting.

One current and one former Briarcliff Manor acting village justice are seeking the People's Caucus of Briarcliff Manor's endorsement for the village justice position in the March 2013 election.

At the Caucus' annual nominational meeting, Howard T. Code, Esq. and Laurie I. Sullivan, Esq. were nominated.

With two candidates vying for the single endorsement, the Caucus will host a special voting meeting today, Jan. 23 from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Youth Center.

Any village resident eligible to vote in the general election is automatically a Caucus member and can vote today.

The Briarcliff Manor village justice will be elected in the March 19 village election and serve a four-year term.

Each candidate provided a biography to Patch:

From Howard T. Code:

Mr. Code has previously served 9 years in Briarcliff as Acting Village Justice, from 2001 through 2010, and currently practices law in White Plains, as a civil trial attorney with 32 years experience. In addition to serving as Acting Judge, he has been an active member of the Briarcliff Volunteer Fire Department for the last 22 years, and was Captain of the Hook and Ladder Company, of which he is the current President and a Life member.

He has served as a volunteer Attorney Advisor for the Briarcliff High School Mock Trial Team for the last 19 years, and is an Adjunct Professor at Marymount Manhattan College, where he has taught American History and Political Science courses since 2005 at the Bedford Hills State prison, a woman’s maximum security facility.

Mr. Code and his wife, Susan Strawgate Code, have lived in the Village for 23 years, where they have raised their two children. Ms. Code is a local real estate broker.

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From Laurie I. Sullivan:

I am an attorney by profession and have served as Briarcliff's Acting Village Justice since 2010 when I was appointed by the Board of Trustees to serve in that capacity. In addition to my responsibilities as acting village justice, I am employed as a full-time court attorney referee in the Supreme Court—a role that I have filled in Westchester County since 2005, and in New York County since 1999. For the past fourteen years of my career in the Court system, I have worked with litigants in the matrimonial part, assisting them in negotiating and resolving their legal disputes. In addition, I have served as the law clerk to a justice of the commercial division (now the administrative judge for the 9th judicial district) and worked as a litigation associate at a mid-size firm in White Plains, New York. I have made my career as a public servant.

On a personal note, I have lived in Briarcliff since 2003, and in the Village proper since 2005 with my 5th grade daughter, Katie, of whom I am especially proud. Not only is Katie an excellent student, but she also has worked hard to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do from the United Martial Arts Center in Briarcliff Manor. Her hard work and discipline has recently inspired me to start my own training in kickboxing.

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During the Caucus' January 16 meeting, residents asked questions of the two candidates, including:

In your view, what would the impact be from a budgetary perspective, if any, or on a role a village judge from a potential change in our status as a village in the Town of Ossining to a co-terminus town-village?

Code responded by asserting that it would be the board of trustees' job to assess any budgetary impact on the court if a transition from village to town-village were to be made.

"The village law has sections concerning the co-terminus idea and what would happen is very straightforward," he continued. "The town by law has to have two judges."

Under this change, Code said the village judge would become a town judge and the acting village judge position "would be abolished."

A second town judge would also be appointed by the town superintendent, Code said.

Sullivan said that there would likely be an initial cost to taxpayers "with the addition of yet another judge" to the municipality, but did not speculate about the specific circumstances that could occur in Briarcliff Manor.

She also pointed out, "A portion of Briarcliff is actually part of the Town of Mount Pleasant, and not part of the Town of Ossining, which poses some legally issues for the town."

In response to the idea that Briarcliff Manor potentially merge its courts with the current Town of Ossining, Sullivan said, "...to have Briarcliff have its own independent judge I think is a beneficial thing for the village residents here."

Code added that even with a change, a judge cannot be unseated until the four-year term has expired.

"Even if we do that," he said, "we still have the court for the next four years."

With regard to an inquiry about youthful offenders in the village, Sullivan noted, "A youthful offender designation is really a service to the child."

"You certainly don't want to excuse wrongful conduct and let them have a free ride," she said. "On the other hand, we do have an obligation, I think, to make sure that to the extent that they know they did something wrong and there is a penalty for that, we do protect them."

Added Code, "The point is to affect the behavior, to give the youth an opportunity, with the help of family, to end the behavior, to modify the behavior."

He also pointed out that anyone granted youthful offender status can "truthfully say" they do not have a criminal record.

The court can also assign youthful offenders to counseling and other services such as Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC).

Sullivan said she prefers to find community service opportunities for youthful offenders, "because I find that all too often, Dad is willing to write a check."

Both candidates said the hardest part of being a village justice is seeing people you know come before the court and maintaining objectivity.

"You have to make some very difficult decisions sometimes," Code reflected.

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For further reading:

Laurie I. Sullivan addresses the People's Caucus of Briarcliff Manor

Howard T. Code addresses the People's Caucus of Briarcliff Manor

Briarcliff People's Caucus Names its Board Candidates

Briarcliff Caucus Gears Up for 2013 Elections


Note: This article previously stated the wrong date for the March village election. We regret the error.

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