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Legal Battle Between Steuben County Legislature and Sheriff Continues


The legal battle between the Steuben County Legislature and Sheriff Jim Allard continues.

Last September, the legislature attempted to stop paying for the sheriff’s liability insurance and to remove his indemnification, which is a legal protection given to other county officers. Earlier this month, Steuben County Supreme Court Justice Jason Cook issued an order allowing Legislator Hilda Lando to be deposed under oath in April to determine whether the County acted in bad faith regarding the executive session. Now, the county is seeking to appeal that order by Jason Cook to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department.

The Steuben County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement in response to the county’s appeal:

“Steuben County’s attorneys are attempting to appeal a Supreme Court Justice’s order to depose a County Legislator, in connection with the Steuben County Sheriff’s ongoing action against the County over a Resolution that would strip the Sheriff of protection against lawsuits for actions taken in the course of his official duties. The late Friday filing, available here (Steuben Sheriff’s App or Facebook page), came after a Steuben County Supreme Court heard arguments on January 4 on the Sheriff’s request—which the County opposed—to take testimony from a Steuben County Legislator about the discussion and debate that was held over Resolution 183-23. (The Resolution, which passed on September 25, 2023, would take away the Sheriff’s indemnification—legal protection given to other County officers—and leave him exposed to lawsuits for performing his official duties. The Resolution was enjoined—stopped from taking effect—by a court several days after it was passed. It remains enjoined today.)

“On January 22, the Court issued an Order allowing a Legislator to be deposed under oath, finding that the deposition “is material and necessary to establish whether the [County] acted in bad faith regarding the executive session held and subsequent passage by the Steuben County Legislator of Steuben County Resolution (183-23).” (A copy of the Court’s January 22 Order is available on the Steuben Sheriff’s App or Facebook page.) In requesting permission to appeal the Court’s order, the County did not explain why it thought the order was wrong but noted that its filing stayed the order—preventing the Sheriff’s Office from taking the Legislator’s testimony.

“The County’s attempt to appeal its loss extends the ongoing dispute, which began when the County passed two unprecedented Resolutions aimed at stripping the Sheriff’s liability protections under the Public Officer Law. One of the Resolutions, which would have unlawfully required the Sheriff to purchase millions of dollars of liability insurance out-of-pocket, was quietly repealed in November 2023, but the County has continued to press forward with its effort to take away the Sheriff’s legal indemnification—potentially endangering the Sheriff’s ability to carry out his public safety duties. Worried about the impact on public safety, and the devastating precedent that the Resolution could set for counties and Sheriffs across New York State, the New York State Sheriffs’ Association has intervened in the case on behalf of the Sheriff.

“Although the County’s request to appeal prolongs the legal fight and the use of taxpayer monies to continue it, Steuben County residents should remain assured that the Sheriff and the man and women of the Sheriff’s Office continue to carry out the full range of their responsibilities and duties in service of their public-safety mission.”

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