Town justice, elected with single write-in vote, resigns after he is accused of failing to attend training

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A town justice in Hornby, New York, who never heard any cases since his November 2019 election, has agreed to resign.

Hornby Town Court Justice Jason Novak agreed to resign after the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct filed a complaint alleging that he failed to attend judicial training required of nonlawyers, according to a June 21 press release. The commission’s stipulation and order are here and here.

The Elmira Star-Gazette, Law.com and Syracuse.com have coverage.

Novak was elected with a single write-in vote in November 2019 and was sworn in as a town justice in January 2020. All but one of 190 voters had left the line blank for town justice, according to Syracuse.com.

Novak was never certified for judicial duty because he didn’t attend training. He never heard a case and never earned a judicial salary. Chief Administrative Judge Craig Doran, who oversees the judicial district encompassing Steuben County, New York, told Syracuse.com that another judge was secured to fill in for Novak.

One judicial training program, scheduled for April 2020, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Novak notified the Office of Court Administration that he couldn’t attend a training program scheduled for September 2020 because of his full-time job responsibilities. Novak also missed two later training programs.

Novak did not respond to four letters from the judicial conduct commission regarding his training. One question the commission wanted to ask was whether Novak had written in his own name on the ballot.

Novak submitted his resignation in a June 7 letter and agreed to never accept judicial office in the future.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve my community,” he wrote.

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