Authored by Ken LaMance, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law
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Port Chester is a village in Westchester County, New York, with a population estimated at 28,300. Port Chester is home to many Latino immigrants, in contrast to surrounding towns which are known for high-income Caucasian populations. Port Chester has become a commercial center thanks primarily to a growing number of blue-collar business.
In 2006, the US Department of Justice brought a lawsuit against Port Chester to change its electoral system from an at-large system to a district-based system. The suit alleged that the existing system resulted in Hispanic citizens having less opportunity than white citizens to elect candidates of their choice. At the time, Latinos made up 46 percent of the city’s population, but no Latino had ever been elected to the Board of Trustees. On March 2, 2007, the federal court ruled to require Port Chester to revise its electoral system. Instead of dividing the town into districts, officials devised an alternative plan by using cumulative voting. This plan was ultimately approved by the federal judge.
Lawsuits against a municipality are a rarity; more common cases involve criminal charges, civil disputes between private parties, and family matters such as divorce and child custody. The Ninth Judicial District presides over cases arising out of Port Chester. The Supreme Court has broad jurisdiction over all cases, but generally handles civil matters over $25,000 and has exclusive authority over termination of marriage matters. The County Court has jurisdiction over felonies and civil matters involving $25,000 or less. The Family Court hears most legal issues involving children and families, but not termination of marriages. The Surrogate Court handles probate matters, and shares authority with the Family Court over adoption proceedings.
Local Port Chester matters are handled by one of two courts: Rye City Court or Rye Town Justice Court. Both courts have jurisdiction over traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses. City Court has authority over civil disputes up to $15,000, while Justice Court has authority up to $3,000.
The New York legal system has considerable jurisdictional overlap, and can be frustrating to those looking to file a claim. An attorney can use the system to your advantage by finding the forum most favorable to you based on his or her familiarity with the various courts and the judges that preside over them. New York is saturated with lawyers specializing in all areas from criminal to divorce to employment disputes, and Port Chester is no exception. With so many attorneys to consider, using LegalMatch ensures that you find the right one in your area, at your price range. Visit our website and fill out a questionnaire for free.
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