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Court is now in session — at night in Riverhead

New Town Justice Lori Hulse gave a brief speech at Friday's inauguration ceremony at Town Hall

The first night court session in Riverhead Town Justice Court’s history will take place Monday at 6 p.m., according to Town Justice Lori Hulse.

As of Wednesday, four small claims cases are listed on the night court calendar before Judge Hulse.

Riverhead Justice Court typically has between 375 and 500 cases on the docket each week and the addition of night court is designed to not only ease some of the court’s backlog, but to also provide scheduling flexibility, she said.

“People will no longer have to take off work to litigate a dispute over a couple hundred dollars,” she said. “This is a good starting point.”

A decision was made to offer night court for small claims matters since those cases, which have a jurisdictional limit of $3,000, are typically litigated by the parties themselves and the proceedings are less formal, she said.

Night court will be offered the second Monday of the month and each session is expected to average about three hours, Judge Hulse said.

Staffing will include a clerk, bailiff and two security personnel. Flextime, as opposed to overtime, is planned in order to make the addition of night court as budget neutral as possible, with the exception of additional expenses associated with stenographer services, she added.

Judge Hulse attributed establishing Riverhead’s first night court with the help from the Town Board, Supervisor Sean Walter and Town Justice Allen Smith, who will alternate with her presiding over night court.

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Photo: Town Justice Lori Hulse. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)