Legislators Commend Work Ethic and Professionalism
FONDA — Employees who work within the Montgomery County Courthouse were recognized Tuesday for their professionalism, knowledge and willingness to assist the public when needed.
The Montgomery County Legislature recognized these employees with a proclamation during the Full Legislature meeting.
The Montgomery County Courthouse houses the Supreme Court, County Court, Family Court, Surrogate’s Court, the District Attorney’s Office and the Commissioner of Jurors.
Each judge has support staff that work within their court. Staff members include secretaries, law clerks and assistants. Court reporters, security and the Commissioner of Jurors also work within the Montgomery County Courthouse and assist all judges.
The District Attorney’s Office has several support staff members with roles such as Assistant District Attorney, Senior Clerk Typist, Secretary, Criminal Investigator and Principal Account Clerk Typist.
“The staff is there to ensure justice can be achieved for all of our citizens who come to court with the very serious problems they are facing,” Montgomery County Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise said.
Montgomery County Court Judge Felix Catena described his staff as loyal and dedicated.
“Michele is the focal point of everything that goes on,” Catena said. “She is responsible for walk-ins, scheduling cases and trials. It’s the flow of information and a huge responsibility. She does a fabulous job and makes sure everything is handled,” he continued.
Catena said his law clerk answers any legal questions that come up.
“It’s very time consuming and requires a tremendous amount of effort,” Catena said about the role of law clerk. “He’s able to sit down and talk to me about all of the research that he has done. We work very well together to have a good product,” Catena said.
Montgomery County Family Court Judge Phillip Cortese said he has the largest support staff team within the Montgomery County Courthouse. There are 12 employees.
“The biggest advantage we have here [in the courthouse] is being able to assist and help the public in resolving their issues,” Cortese said. “It makes it so people coming to courts can resolve those matters in a peaceful and civil manner.”
Family Court Law Clerk Rebecca Slezak said courts are dispute resolution centers.
“People have the chance to give their side of the story based on the law that’s appropriate,” she said. “The support staff makes a lot of what we do happen.”
Slezak said the Family Court support staff is very respectful to the fact that people are talking about very sensitive issues.
“They are very professional despite dealing with angry or frustrated people and have the ability to calm them down,” Slezak said. “They are able to explain that there is usually a solution for every problem. It’s important to let people speak and hear both sides of the stories,” she continued. “They have to be very respectful and treat people with dignity. They solve problems for people.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski said the staff in her office is always working with the courts within the Montgomery County Courthouse.
“We are all doing a dance and we know when someone is moving left or right,” McCoski said.
McCoski said the staff in the District Attorney’s Office works together, is resilient and very dedicated to their careers. Staff also ensures the public has a good experience when coming to the Montgomery County Courthouse.
“The look on peoples’ faces when they leave is a sign of relief,” McCoski said. “It’s because they found out where they needed to go or who they needed to see.”
Surrogate’s Court Judge Guy P. Tomlinson, is also the Acting Supreme Court Judge and additionally handles Integrate Domestic Violence Court. There are four employees who work for his court and assist with all cases.
“They really end up doing a lot more than you may think,” Tomlinson said. His staff fields the public’s calls and tactfully answers questions. Employees are prohibited to give legal advice, but direct questions in whatever way they can.
Tomlinson said his staff gets lots of inquiries from the public and these numbers have increased due to more people representing themselves in court.
“[My support staff] is the face, voice and ears,” Tomlinson said. “They assist and help guide the public when they can.”
Tomlinson, like the other judges, said his staff frequently works with other courts throughout the building, especially for scheduling purposes.
“The better everyone works together, the more successful our work in the courthouse is, Tomlinson said.