Village of Cayuga Heights Court
836 Hanshaw Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Hours of Operation:
Office Hours: Tuesday 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Court: Tuesday 6:00 pm untill last court session
First Thursday of each month 5:00 pm* untill last court session
*The justice may also do criminal arrangements, orders of protection and warrants on an emergency basis at any time of the day or night.
The Village of Cayuga Heights Court serves the community by adjudicating a wide variety of civil and criminal matters. The annual case load is between 1,000 and 1,500 cases, most of which are Vehicle and Traffic Law infractions, but many are more traditional criminal or civil matters. The court is staffed by a part time Court Clerk, Patricia Kannus, and Justice, Glenn G. Galbreath. There is also an Acting Justice, David Klein, who presides in a few cases each year when Justice Galbreath feels there might be a conflict of interest.
The Village Court proceedings are open to the public and everyone is encouraged to visit the Court and even ask questions after the Court session is over.
Looking for something? If you would like to request any governmental records please submit a FOIL Form to the Clerks Office.
Generally the court’s jurisdiction is limited to events occurring within the Village of Cayuga Heights. There are exceptions, though, e.g. Justice Galbreath can arraign defendants on criminal charges arising in surrounding communities if the justice from the home jurisdiction is unavailable; the Village Court may hear civil small claims cases if the defendant lives in the Village even though the transaction in question occurred outside the Village).
The most common types of cases handled by the Village of Cayuga Heights Court include:
- Parking tickets: Most are handled administratively, but if contested, the justice will hear the case at trial.
- Vehicle and Traffic Law Infractions: The majority of the Court’s cases and usually involve arraignments and, if contested, non-jury trials.
- Other Infractions: Often minor violations of Village ordinances or New York law, and while they are criminal in nature, are less serious than misdemeanors or felonies, e.g. being in Sunset Park after it is closed; permitting one’s dog to run free outside the owner’s property. Like the Vehicle and Traffic Law infractions the Justice has jurisdiction to take the case from arraignment through trial.
- Misdemeanors: Criminal charges whose maximum penalty can be up to a year in jail. They usually are violations of the New York Penal Law, but many Vehicle and Traffic Law violations also are misdemeanors, e.g., driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed operation. These charges, while not quite as serious as felonies, do entitle the defendant to a jury trial and a court appointed (Tompkins County funded) attorney if the defendant is indigent.
Felonies: The most serious criminal cases, and the Court has preliminary jurisdiction only, i.e. the Village Court may do the initial arraignment (appraise the defendant of his/her rights, appoint counsel and determine bail) and a preliminary hearing (determine if the defendant should be held for action by the Grand Jury).
- Small Claims: Law suits brought by a person against a person or business who is located or has a place of business in the Village. The maximum the Court may award a party is limited to $3,000. These cases are often also referred to the Community Dispute Resolution Center for possible mediation, but if that fails, the Village Court will preside over the trial. Small Claims cases have somewhat relaxed rules of procedure and evidence and often do not have (but may) attorney representation.
- Regular Civil Claims: Like Small Claims cases, the maximum amount that generally may be awarded is $3,000. Unlike Small Claims cases, jurisdiction is generally based on the event in question having occurred within the Village, as opposed to the residence/location of the Small Claim’s defendant being in the Village. Also, the procedural and evidentiary rules are more formal and, while not required, representation by an attorney is usually very helpful.
For your information the following sheet, Rights & Warnings For Traffic Violations, is provided to all people appearing in the Village Court. It applies most specifically to persons charged with traffic infractions. The rights and warning for people charged with other offenses can be significantly different, and those are always done separately.