Lake Placid judge shocks board by resigning

Justice William Hulshoff
(Enterprise photo —
 Antonio Olivero)

Justice William Hulshoff (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

LAKE PLACID — Judge William Hulshoff verbally submitted his resignation as village justice at the start of the Lake Placid Board of Trustees meeting Monday afternoon, surprising the village’s mayor, attorney and each trustee in attendance.

Hulshoff was short with his words, merely informing the board that he will step down from the position on Sept. 30. He further declined comment Monday evening after the meeting concluded, though he added that he would elaborate on his decision in an interview later this week.

At the end of the board meeting, Mayor Craig Randall, village attorney Janet Bliss and the rest of the trustees relayed that they were not expecting the resignation and added that they’d need to look into the proper protocol to both handle Hulshoff’s caseload and find a replacement.

“It came as a total surprise to everybody,” Bliss said.

“It may be possible [to replace Hulshoff],” Bliss continued. “It would be appointed, but you have the problem that you just can’t put a person in that position because they have to have training, so that’s why it works well when you have someone who is a justice who can step in. But somebody brand-new has to go to training, and I don’t know when the next training session is.”

“I believe more to come on that,” Randall added. “I think we’ve got to sit down and look at it.”

Hulshoff is a Republican, bail bondsman and former village trustee. He has served as village justice since 2009, when he was the only candidate to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of James Moscatello. Hulshoff has also served as one of two North Elba town justices since he defeated Democrat John “Jack” Knox for the vacant position in November 2015.

Hulshoff’s resignation leaves North Elba’s other full-time justice, Democrat Dean Dietrich, as the only current fill-in replacement to hear village cases. Dietrich was appointed backup village justice last October. Dietrich’s official title is “associate village justice,” a role the board only intended to use when Hulshoff was absent. Dietrich is uncontested as he seeks re-election to another term as town justice in November.

The appointment of Dietrich to associate village justice was pursuant to state law. Randall said the village also may have to look into finding a replacement for Dietrich in the associate position.

“Dean is in that position,” Bliss said, “but it is certainly not a full-time position and he didn’t sign up for that. So we’ll have to look into what you do.”

Hulshoff’s decision also leaves the long-term future of the Lake Placid court uncertain, as his announcement comes just months after he led a charge to keep the village court, at a cost village Treasurer Paul Ellis estimated at $46,000 to village taxpayers.

Randall, Bliss, the entire village board and Dietrich led the effort against Hulshoff to dissolve the village court into the town court, a consolidation move recommended by the Lake Placid-North Elba Community Development Commission, which Dietrich chairs.

But twice — in June 2016 and earlier this year — Lake Placid voters supported Hulshoff, voting to keep the village court.

Hulshoff was also elected to another village justice term during this year’s vote. That term runs through March 2021.

Earlier this year, Trustee Peter Holderied said if voters didn’t decide to dissolve the village court, it would remain for at least another four years, until 2021.

In April, after Hulshoff won re-election, he asked the village for a major raise — to double his salary of $8,672. He claimed at the time that his current annual salary was the lowest of any town or village justice in the county and amounted to less than half what justices make in towns such as St. Armand ($20,000) and Ticonderoga ($17,500), while the village’s busy caseload warranted his request.

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