Published on:

#339 The 11 Counties of the Greater Capital Region, Part 2 of 6

339 Post Depositphotos_2048407_xs.jpgThere are 11 counties, 13 cities, 62 villages, and 144 towns in the Greater Capital Region; 230 municipal entities, most of which have their own individual judicial systems. The only exceptions to this general rule are those villages (and, perhaps, a few towns of which I am currently unaware) that are too small to have their own separate judicial systems or those villages (almost always villages) that their surrounding town has absorbed the administration of, usually in the name of budgetary fiscal restraint.

Also remember, by law, in New York state, judges of town and village courts need not be attorneys. As such, you will commonly find town and village judges to be either local residents who have the judgeship as a part-time job or retired military or police personnel. And the various town and village courts run the gamut from the new, pristine, and large to the old, shabby, and tiny. Some are out of the back of other businesses or services, such as hardware stores or fire or police departments. Some are amazing, stand-alone edifices which the town or village is (rightly) quite proud of.

My favorite memory of a small village court is that of the tired farmer, late to court due to having to plow a muddy field. Upon reaching the threshold, he kicked off the debris all over his boots. Mud or cow dung, who could tell? He couldn’t. So, he reached down and pulled off a clump, raised it to his nose, and safely declared that “There might be people in this court who are full of @#$%, but I sure the hell ain’t one of ’em.” It might seem crass, but I found it endearing. This is the piquant nature of practicing in these wonderfully quaint courts (even if I always get the feeling that my clients are presumed guilty until proven innocent!).

City courts and county courts have judges (all of whom are judges full-time, as far as I know) who also must be attorneys, by law. While they might not be as colorful as their more rustic brethren, they are just as able and approachable.

339 Post-2 Columbia County Colored.jpg2. The County of Columbia:

Incorporated: 1786 Population: 63,096 Area: 648 Cities: 1: Hudson Towns: 18: Ancram, Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Claverack, Clermont, Copake, Gallatin, Germantown, Ghent, Greenport, Hillsdale, Kinderhook, Livingston, New Lebanon, Stockport, Stuyvesant, and Taghkanic Villages: 4: Chatham, Kinderhook, Philmont, and Valatie
I find Columbia County to be nothing short of a farming idyll. Farming is a Huge Deal in this county and it is not uncommon to see the sights, sounds, and (pungent) scents of hundreds, if not thousands, of Holsteins languidly living out their bovine lives in the lush green fields. The county is extremely conservative, outside of the little liberal enclaves of Hudson and Chatham. Still, I love the no-nonsense attitude I always encounter here in the various courts. There is also a certain charm to its four villages.

339 Post-3 Fulton County Colored.jpg3. The County of Fulton:

Incorporated: 1838 Population: 55,531 Area: 533 Cities: 2: Gloversville and Johnstown Towns: 10: Bleeker, Broadalbin, Caroga, Ephrata, Johnstown, Mayfield, Northampton, Oppenheim, Perth, and Stratford Villages: 4: Broadalbin, Dolgeville, Mayfield, and Northville
Fulton County is another fiercely conservative county, although I think Columbia County has it beat. This is the ghostland of The Glove. There was a time when there were over 200 leather manufacturers in this county and if you were wearing a pair of gloves, there was a very good chance that they were made here. Now, with most of the glove trade long gone, Fulton County has gone through several incarnations of trying to reinvent itself. What it is rich in is tourism, especially with regard to the southern Adirondacks and the impressive Great Sacandaga Lake.