Shelby town justice picked to serve on NYS Magistrates Association

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2015 at 12:00 am

Dawn Keppler says she wants association to reach out to rural judges

Photo by Tom Rivers – Dawn Keppler, the Shelby town justice since 1999, is one of 12 justices from around the state serving on the board of directors for the New York State Magistrates Association. She was elected to serve on the board on Sept. 28.

SHELBY – Dawn Keppler, a town justice in Shelby since 1999, was elected by her peers to serve on the board of directors for the NYS Magistrates Association, the first judge from Orleans County to serve on the organization’s board.

Keppler was picked for the board on Sept. 28 during the Magistrates annual conference in Niagara Falls. The association provides training and resources for town and village justices throughout the state.

Keppler said she will push for rural judges to better use the training programs offered through the Magistrates Association. All judges need to complete certification and training each year. They can take courses on-line or in person at conferences. (Ridgeway Town Justice Joseph Kujawa and Kendall Town Justice Debbie Drennan attended the four-day conference in Niagara Falls.)

Keppler was backed by a nominating committee to serve on the State Board. She has been the judge since Shelby and Ridgeway voted to share services in the court system, with the Shelby Town Hall used for both courts, and the Shelby and Ridgeway judges having jurisdiction in both towns.

The Village of Medina also dissolved its court in 2011, with those cases shifted to Ridgeway and Shelby.

Keppler said more towns and villages are looking to share services with their court systems.

“I’m one of the unique judges who has dealt with consolidation,” she said. “Many are now talking about it.”

The Town of Yates also has joined Shelby and Ridgeway in having multi-town jurisdiction for the judges. The three towns have gone from two judges each to one each. Yates keeps its court system at the Yates Town Hall.

Keppler said the shared system has been beneficial in the Medina community, where people going to court were often confused whether they went to the Ridgeway or Shelby town hall, or the Medina Village Hall. Now, they just go to the Shelby Town Hall.

Keppler works with her husband Phil and family in a cattle business, SK Herefords. Keppler manages the office and books, and helps when needed in the barn.

She also is the office manager for Webster, Schubel and Meier, a law office on West Center Street in downtown Medina.

She enjoys her job as the local town justice.

“It’s interesting – no case is ever the same,” she said. “Your job is to apply the law as it is written and uphold fairness in the courtroom.”