The ongoing legal dispute involving Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard and the Steuben County Legislature over the sheriff’s coverage under the county’s insurance policy is set to be heard in the New York State Supreme Court on December 21.
The controversy began following the legislature’s decision on September 25, with a 10-7 vote, to repeal a local law that had previously provided defense and indemnification for the sheriff’s position. In response, Sheriff Allard filed a lawsuit challenging this repeal, leading to the imposition of a temporary restraining order on the legislature’s decision.
The case, set to be presided over by Justice Jason Cook of Yates County, will take place in a Steuben County courtroom at 3 p.m. on the scheduled date. The court has received an amicus brief from Steuben County, Sheriff Allard, and the New York State Sheriff’s Association, which supports the sheriff’s stance in this matter.
The issue at the heart of the dispute centers on whether the sheriff should be required to obtain separate liability insurance against lawsuits arising from the official duties of the sheriff’s office.
On November 27, Sheriff Allard pointed out that the legislature had also repealed a resolution mandating such insurance. Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler refrained from commenting extensively on the case, stating that the matter needs to be resolved in court.
Allard argued that the legislature’s actions likened the sheriff to a contractor rather than acknowledging him as a duly elected county official, and overlooked the fact that the sheriff’s position was already covered by Steuben County’s blanket insurance policy.
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