Appellate Division, Third Department, Session at the Greene County Courthouse

There will be a special session of the Appellate Division, Third Department, at the Greene County Courthouse in Catskill, New York, held on April 25, 2023 at 10:30AM.

Those intending to observe oral argument should RSVP by contacting J. Fisher’s chambers or through the contact us box on this website.

There will be a special luncheon with the Justices of the Third Department, presented by the GCBA. Please RSVP for such luncheon by contacting J. Fisher’s chambers or through this box. UPDATE: THIS IS FULL AND THERE IS A WAITLIST.

Honoring John Cullen “Jack” Welsh Jr., Esq.

The Greene County Bar Association (GCBA) mourns the loss of John Cullen “Jack” Welsh Jr., Esq., more affectionately known as Jack or most affectionately known Professor Welsh. His obituary can be found by clicking here, and a really wonderful news article from Albany Law School and be found here.

Given Professor Welsh’s tenure in Greene County and Catskill, I asked some the County Court Judges, the District Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office on some remarks about Jack. Each of the comments and memories focused on one thing: His passion and innate ability as a legal educator.

Some of the comments include:

Hon. Terry J. Wilhelm: Jack Welsh lived for many decades in the Village of Catskill with his wife and children.  He was a professor at Albany Law School for many decades and, on several occasions, he was the acting Dean of Albany Law School.  He taught property at Albany Law School.  He was a great guy, a great law professor, and a great family man and was very active in St. Patrick’s Church in Catskill (his residence was about 50 yards from the church).  I and many other older members of the local bar had Professor Welsh as a professor in property law.  Not long after retiring from Albany Law School he moved more toward the middle of the country to be closer to his kids.  Many, many graduates of Albany Law School will never forget Jack Welsh.

Hon. Charles M. Tailleur: I recall meeting Professor Welsh when I was a teenager running around on the local basketball courts and baseball diamonds competing against or with his son “Jimmy” with whom I became friends.  Professor Welsh would often attend the games.  I did not know then that several years later I would be sliding through his Property Law class literally by the skin of my teeth.  Not a real fan of the “Rule Against Perpetuities”.  “Miranda Rights” are more my speed.  

Professor Welsh was both brilliant and kind with an unwavering commitment to his students; his family; his community and his faith.  What a wonderful life he had, leaving a profound legacy that includes the meaningful impact he has had on so many in the Greene County bar and well beyond! 

Rest in Peace, Professor Welsh. – Chip, ALS Class of 1992.

Patrick Gratten, Esq.: I took every course that Professor Welsh taught at Albany Law School: Property 1, Property 2 as well as Trusts and Estates.  I remember him looking off into the corner of the room with his hands in his hip pockets, naming a case, giving the citation and then, with lightning speed, stating the facts and then pausing ever-so-slightly before asking the question.  He had a sly sense of humor, such as saying “It is hard to decide who to dislike more: the plaintiff, the defendant, their lawyers or the judge”. 

He was acting Dean and spoke at orientation. He encouraged all the incoming students to freely share any problems, personal or institutional, with the appropriate Law School personnel.  After his generous encouragement, he added wisely “Despite what you may think, your problems are not new or remarkable, we have heard them all before at Albany Law School”. They broke the mold after they made him.  He is truly irreplaceable. ALS class of ’96

Kelly Ann Nagle, Esq.: I am sure all Albany Law graduates remember Professor Welsh. Old school, he required that you stand when called upon in Property class. He was never without that white plastic pocket protector and pens contained therein.  Lecturing and drilling students via the Socratic Method with his hands in his back pockets. That voice… and dry wit.

Rumors abounded about his phenomenal memory and how he graduated law school with a perfect GPA, the truth of which I don’t know.  What I do know is that he walked into Greene County Surrogate’s Court one day and, seeing my name on the door remarked that he recalled me as a former student.  I had graduated at least five years before.  That was when I learned that he lived in Catskill – right up the street from the Courthouse!  

Judge Pulver once asked Professor Welsh to serve as a Friend of the Court in a particularly troublesome Surrogate’s case where we needed a skilled practitioner.  Ever gracious, he obliged and his research and advice was invaluable.

When Professor Welsh retired and moved from Catskill, he filed with Surrogate’s Court all the Wills he had drafted and gave me his contact information in case he was ever needed.  Thus began our annual Christmas card exchange which continued up through this Christmas.  

I am glad his signature is on my law school diploma as Acting Dean at the time I graduated.  Rest in Peace Professor. ALS class of ’95

David Costanzo, Esq. (District Attorney’s Office): When I attended Albany Law School I had the privilege of studying under Professor Welsh.  Professor Welsh was a true scholar who taught and mentored generations of lawyers.  Professor Welsh will be remembered and missed by all.

Angelo Scaturro, Esq. (Public Defender’s Office and Immediate Past President of GCBA): I had Jack in my first year at Albany Law School. He taught real property.  I have had two memorable moments with Jack.  The first time in law school that I had to stand and answer a question was in Jack’s real property class.  Of course my last name being with an “S” meant I was at the back of the class in an auditorium like setting.  I answered the question in the manner I thought was appropriate. Jack gave me another scenario and I continued to answer in the same manner. He did that several more times until it was pretty clear that I was answering the question wrong, but I stood my ground and then everyone laughed at me!  My second memorable experience with Jack was shortly after I started working at Pulver & Stiefel.  I was conducting one of my first closings representing Catskill Savings Bank and the purchaser (although I was covering for Ned Stiefel so I did not handle the closing from the beginning of the contract).  The conference room filled with people and I turned to my left to find out that Jack Welsh was representing the seller.  Of course the purchaser asked a question and I was starting to sweat bullets giving the answer not knowing if I was correct. After I give the answer I turned to Jack and asked if I had answered her properly. Being the gentleman that he was, he told me he wasn’t listening! Jack left an indelible mark on Albany Law school and on me.  He will not be forgotten.

Results of Greene County Bar Association Election

The Greene County Bar Association (GCBA) held elections at its annual meeting on January 26, 2023 and has elected the following officers:

  • President – Nicholas A. Battaglia, Esq.
  • Vice President – Zachary Halperin, Esq.
  • Secretary: James Gross, Esq.
  • Tresurer: Shelley Bower, Esq.

The minutes and other information will be circulated via email shortly.

GCBA Meeting

The annual meeting of the Bar will take place on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 3PM in the ceremonial courtroom on the Third Floor of the Greene County Courthouse, with the following agenda to be addressed:

  • Election of officers
  • Election of a Board of Directors
  • Bar Composite Photograph
  • Yearly bar dues
  • Appellate Division traveling session at the Greene County Bar Courthouse

Thank you all and be safe.

GCBA Holiday Dinner

The particulars of the 2022 Greene Party Bar Association (GCBA) holiday dinner are as follows:

DATE AND TIME: December 21, 2022 at 6PM.

LOCATION: Seconds Restaurant, 7 Second Street, Athens, New York 12015

DINNER CHOICES: Chicken Schnitzel; Eggplant Parmigiana, Shrimp Scampi (choose 1) *please let us know ahead of time of any food allergies

ENTERTAINMENT: Dani Dae Duo to follow dinner

RSVP: Please RSVP by December 16, 2022 to

MEETING: To be determined and held in January 2023

Happy Holidays to all and wishing you and your families the happiest and healthiest of New Years.

Coronavirus Administrative Orders and Information

As we all know, the coronavirus known as COVID-19 has caused significant hardship for our bar, our clients, our courts, our State, our Country, and the rest of the world. Members of the Greene County Bar Association (GCBA) in Greene County, New York have been phenomenal coping and adapting to these rapid changes. This includes other attorneys from outside counties coming to practice in our Catskill, New York courthouse–almost all remotely. Virtual operations have been working well as we all learn how to handle them.

Here are some important places to check for information which is rapidly changing:

State-wide Administrative Orders:

Third Judicial Distract Administrative Orders (including Greene County, Columbia County, Ulster County, Albany County, and the other counties in our district):

Unified Court System Coronavirus main page:

And of course, always feel free to contact any Court Clerk, County Clerk, any officer of the GCBA, or anyone in Chambers for assistance. Do not hesitate to contact Justice Fisher’s chambers either for information or help how to proceed!

Most importantly, all be safe. This is a difficult time for all of us. The Administrative Orders give leniency for a lot of adjournment requests and issues plaguing all attorneys throughout the United States. Whether you are a member of GCBA, not a member, or a lawyer practicing in our locality (Welcome!), please do not hesitate to ask questions and know we are all out there for each other first and foremost–this pandemic transcends the practice of law and we are all humans in this together.

2020 Officer Elections: Greene County Bar Association (GCBA), Catskill, New York

At our organizational meeting at the Greene County Courthouse, 320 Main Street, Catskill, New York 12414, the Greene County Bar Association (GCBA) held officer nominations and elections. This was following a presentation by our Administrative Judge for the Third Judicial District, Hon. Thomas Breslin.

The following individuals were nominated and, after a vote, were elected to serve the Greene County Bar Association for the year 2020:

  • President: Angelo F. Scaturro, Esq.
  • Vice President: Nicholas A. Battaglia, Esq.
  • Secretary: Zachary Halperin, Esq.
  • Treasurer: Shelley Bower, Esq.

We congratulate them on their new role and wish them the best of luck moving forward!

The Greene County Bar Association is the local bar association for attorneys in Greene County, New York. Our home courthouse is at 320 Main Street, Catskill, New York 12414. Our organizational meeting as well as other important meetings are typically held on the top floor in the ceremonial courtroom. There are currently three resident judges, including Supreme Court Justice Lisa M. Fisher, County Court Justice Charles Tailleur (multi-hat judge for Family Court and Surrogates Court), and County Court Justice Terry Wilhelm (multi-hat judge for Family Court and Surrogates Court). The Greene County Courthouse sits in historic Catskill, New York.

Greene County Bar Association Organizational Meeting – 1/23/2020

This is a notice that the Greene County Bar Association (GCBA) is having its annual organizational meeting on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 3 PM in the ceremonial courtroom, 320 Main Street, Catskill, New York 12414.

This is the yearly meeting to pick officers and set an agenda for the upcoming year. All those who are seeking an officer position or election should contact Monica Kenny-Keff, Esq., our current president, with an interest. Candidates should also come to the meeting to vote and to be a part of the GCBA. The meeting is open to all members and prospective members.

ALSO NOTE that the yearly dues are now due and owing. You may bring them to the meeting to pay. The cost of 2020 dues remains the same as previous years at $125.00. All checks should be payable to the “Greene County Bar Association” and sent to Shelley Bower, Esq. at 220 Jefferson Heights, Catskill, New York 12414.

Please check your e-mails for updates regarding this meeting if there are any changes in location, time, or cancellations due to weather.

REMINDER: GCBA Memorial 12/17 @ 1PM

This is an important reminder that the Greene County Bar Association (GCBA) will be holding its annual Memorial Service on December 17, 2019 at 1 PM in the Ceremonial Courtroom of the Greene County Courthouse located at 320 Main Street, Catskill, New York 12414.

We have lost far too many members of our legal bar this year, all too soon. Please come and hear warm remarks for each of them.

We will also be honoring some who may not have been properly honored the first time. Please join us in further remembering their legacy to our Bar Association.

GCBA Historical Notes: The Murder Trial of Worthy Tolley

The Trial of Worthy Tolley

On the afternoon of Monday, September 14, 1914 Worthy Tolley, an Athens farmer, took his shotgun into a field across the road from his house where Roy Hallenbeck was working and shot Hallenbeck.  Hallenbeck died the next day from his wounds. 

On November 13, 1914 Tolley was indicted by a grand jury and arraigned that same day before Greene Supreme Court Justice Cochrane.  The court assigned William Thorpe of Catskill to defend Tolley, who would be prosecuted by District Attorney Howard Wilbur of Catskill and Assistant District Attorney John Fray of Catskill.

Tolley, 49, was tried for the murder of Hallenbeck, 27, before Greene County Supreme Judge Alden Chester and a jury.  Chester, 66, a juror of great renown and a legal historian, was a member of the Appellate Division who had returned to the trial bench to help clear a backlog of cases.  Jury selection commenced February 23, 1915, and lasted all or parts of four days.  Opening remarks were made February 26, 1915 by Fray, and testimony began with the witness Edward Guthrie.

Guthrie owned the farm where Hallenbeck worked as a hired man, on the west side of what Guthrie called Spoorenberg Road and what is now called Farm-to-Market Road.  (The Guthrie farm is now the Wais farm.)

Guthrie told the court and the jury that he and Hallenbeck were packing pears on Thursday before the shooting when Tolley came over to Guthrie’s farm.  Tolley lived on the east side of Spoorenberg Road on the next farm directly to the south.  Tolley said his son Garrett (Garry) had run away the day before.  Some conversation was had about the possibility that Garrett had gone into the Navy.  On Sunday Tolley returned, having learned in the meantime that Hallenbeck had received a letter from Garrett.  Guthrie related to Tolley that Hallenbeck had told him about receiving the letter.  Guthrie told Tolley that Garrett had asked Hallenbeck not to tell Tolley where Garrett had run away to.  Hallenbeck was not present at this conversation between Tolley and Guthrie.  

In court Guthrie told about a conversation he had with Hallenbeck.  

When he spoke to Guthrie about receiving the letter, Hallenbeck was clearly troubled by the position his friend Garrett had put him in.  “What would you do, Mr. Guthrie,” Hallenbeck asked.  “Well, I can’t decide that for you, Roy.  That is a thing you will have to decide for yourself,” Guthrie told him.  Roy said “he would give $5 if the boy hadn’t written him,” according to Guthrie. 

At about 2 o’clock PM Monday, Guthrie now testified, Tolley came into Guthrie’s barnyard on foot and driving Guthrie’s grey team that Hallenbeck had taken out earlier to do some harrowing.  Tolley had horse reins in one hand, and a double barrel shotgun in the other. 

“Mr. Tolley what have you done,” Guthrie asked.  “Well, Roy wouldn’t tell me where my boy was and I shot him.”  I said “Have you killed him.”  He said “I am afraid so.”  I said, “You will go to the chair for this.”  He said, “Maybe I will.  They know where to get me.  I will be over to the house when they want me.”

Tolley put the horses in Guthrie’s barn, and Guthrie went to find Hallenbeck.  Guthrie and the other hired hands attended to Hallenbeck as best as they could.  He had been shot with a single blast at about 50 feet.  Most of the shot penetrated his chest and face.  Hallenbeck never regained consciousness before expiring. 

On cross examination, Guthrie repeated the details of his conversations with Tolley, including one earlier Monday when Guthrie met Tolley on the road in a carriage with Orin Flint, an Athens attorney.  Flint had apparently been enlisted by Tolley to try to persuade Hallenbeck to give up the desired information.  Guthrie told defense attorney Thorpe that Tolley appeared to have been drinking when he saw him in Flint’s company.     

William (Will) Bush, a second hired man on the Guthrie farm testified next.  On the fateful Monday, Bush and Hallenbeck came out of the fields together to take dinner at the noon hour.  Tolley was at the barn, waiting for Hallenbeck.  “Did you tell Flint where Garry is?” Tolley said.  When Hallenbeck said no, Tolley said “then I will get you before the day is over,” according to Bush. 

Bush recalled hearing that afternoon “a report from a gun,” seeing Tolley with the team, and going to Hallenbeck’s aid.

Court opened Saturday morning February 27 with the testimony of Charley Bush, Will’s brother.  Charley Bush was picking pears on the neighboring Gonnerman farm, when he heard a shot, turned and saw Tolley in the field “take the gun from his shoulder.”  Bush also attended to Hallenbeck.

Charles van Orden, surveyor, testified to the making of a map of the field and of the location of the shooting, which Wilbur offered in evidence, and which was received without objection. 

Charles Hitchcock, Athens policeman testified he went to the Tolley house after the shooting.  

Q. And what was said between you, if anything? 

A. I walked down the roadway and Mr. Tolley says to me, “You came after me once when you had no right, but this time you have a perfect right.”  I says, “Well, Worthy, you have to go to Athens with me.”

Q. And was there any further conversation between you at that time? 

A. I started to search him and he says to me, or I says, “Where is the gun?” and he says “I have no gun.”  I says, “What did you shoot that man with?”  He says “A shotgun.”  And I says, “I will have to have that gun.”  I says, “Where is it?”  He says, “Downstairs, I will go and get it.”  He and I walked downstairs and he procured a gun from the top of a cupboard or closet in the basement of the house and I took the gun and came on out.  

Hitchcock took Tolley into custody, they drove to Athens in “Abram Post’s machine (automobile),” and Tolley was brought to jail that night in Catskill

The shotgun Tolley surrendered to Hitchcock went into evidence through Sheriff Mackey, who had taken custody of it from Hitchcock.

Before Wilbur rested, several prosecution witnesses said they were in Athens Village Sunday morning and heard Tolley say he was going to “get” Hallenbeck. 

Dr. George Branch, who performed the autopsy on Hallenbeck, also testified.

Court reconvened Monday at 11 AM following Judge Chester’s arrival in Catskill on the train down from Albany.

Defense attorney Thorpe now made his opening remarks.  His defense would consist of three major points:  (a) there was a history of mental illness in Tolley’s family, on his mother’s side; (b) Tolley was distraught and not in his right mind after his son disappeared; (c) the prosecution presented no evidence regarding what took place out in the field between Tolley and Hallenbeck in the moments before Hallenbeck was shot. 

The first four defense witnesses testified to the suicides of two of Tolley’s mother’s brothers and Tolley’s brother William.  There were strenuous protestations and objections made by Wilbur, the first time in the trial when what should or should not be allowed as testimony was disputed between the attorneys.  Since none of the witnesses personally observed the acts of suicide, the testimony evolved into what the uncles looked like in death, one with a gash to his throat, observed in the coffin, and the other with the mark of a rope and brown discoloration on the neck, again in the coffin.  The town clerk of Athens testified that the death certificate of Worthy’s brother William Tolley indicated cause of death “hanging by neck.”  Judge Chester received the certificate into evidence “for whatever it is worth.”  

Thorpe’s main witness was Allie Tolley, the defendant’s wife.  In the days following Garrett’s disappearance, Tolley didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, and was consumed with worry.  On Saturday, Worthy and Allie were in the village near the river, when they met a man with grappling hooks, who said he had been “dragging the river.”  Mrs. Tolley said her husband understood that some people felt Garrett had fallen into the river, which upset Tolley greatly.  

Mrs. Tolley next explained that Roy Hallenbeck had been a close friend of the Tolley family, and that Roy “kept company” with the oldest Tolley daughter for the last two years. 

That Monday afternoon Tolley took his shotgun “and stated to me that he was going to shoot a hawk out in the orchard,” said Mrs. Tolley.  Sometime later, when she saw him next, “he related to me what he had done.”

I said, “Why did you do such a thing?” and he said “I asked him four times and he didn’t tell me.”

Q.  Asked him what four times? 

A. Where his boy was, four times, and he didn’t tell him, and his gun went off and he didn’t know how it was, but his gun went off.

Mrs. Tolley, and later on her daughter, Maude, testified that in recent years Tolley was sometimes intoxicated when coming home from the village at night, and at times he was physically abusive.  Maude told the court and jury that she and Roy had been engaged to marry. 

Garrett Tolley testified he did not get along with his father, and he was scared of his father, drunk or sober.  Tolley was often critical of his son – his dumps of hay when raking were too small, he didn’t get the cows into their stantions quick enough and so on.  His father had never struck him, however.  On Wednesday the 9th, Garrett bicycled west of Coxsackie Village, stopping at different places looking for work until he was referred to Seney Green’s farm in New Baltimore.  He was at Seney Green’s over the weekend and until Tuesday when his mother came for him.  

On cross-examination by Wilbur, Garrett offered that his father didn’t like Hallenbeck, the man who might be his son-in-law some day. 

This testimony was followed by doctors for both sides with opinions about Tolley’s sanity, and the various recalling of witnesses to offer further testimony on certain matters in question. 

We learn a lot about the ubiquity, and the diversity, of farm life in and around Athens, New York the second week of September, 1914.  When Garrett Tolley was bicycling that Wednesday afternoon, he found men at one farm pressing hay.  Seney Green employed Garrett for three days “setting up buckwheat.”  Attorney Wilbur asked him about that.  

Q. Tolley, what kind of work is that? 

A. Why, raking it up after it is cradled in small bundles, then set it up.

Q. And tie it?

A. And then tying it. 

Q. Setting the buckwheat up?

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. That buckwheat is pretty well full with brambles and thistles?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Pretty stiff good work you did there; good hard work you did there?

A. Well, I don’t know that it was hard.

Q. Disagreeable work?

A. Part of it was.  

On Saturday, Allie and Worthy talked to Irving Hotaling, who was threshing.  On Monday Charlie Bush was picking pears, while his brother Will Bush was cutting corn stalks and tying them up in shocks to dry.  Roy Hallenbeck spent that day seated on a wheeled machine, pulled by a team of horses, with parallel rows of circular discs to the rear, “working up” ground earlier turned by a plow and then seeded with oats.  Their day time activities, for most or all of these men, followed their early morning chores of milking cows and feeding livestock. 

Attorney Thorpe gave an impassioned defense summation which took up 29 pages of trial transcript.  He quoted Longfellow and the story of Cain from the Bible.  He told the men of the jury that nothing they could do would bring Roy Hallenbeck back.  He told them that when Tolley went to the field that afternoon to see Hallenbeck “if his patience became so aroused that he was unable to premeditate, unable to deliberate, and there in a fit of passion without intent to kill Roy Hallenbeck, did kill him, he is not guilty of murder in the first degree.”  He told them “the defense here, gentlemen, are not coming to you with the proposition to take this defendant and set him at liberty.”  

A win for Thorpe, and his client, would be to escape the death penalty.

Thorpe finished:  “Gentlemen, my work so far has ceased.  I have done my duty and perhaps I might say I have fought a good fight and I have finished the course, and pass up to you the future custody and welfare, and as I do it the burden rolls away, and you now become the custodians of the future welfare and of the soul of Worthy Tolley.”  

John Fray summed up for the people.  He told the men of the jury the rule for insanity:  “if at the time of the commission of this homicide the defendant knew he was doing wrong, realized the nature of his act, and that it was wrong, then he is responsible.” 

He reminded the jury of the 108 shots in Hallenbeck’s body, of the threats Tolley had made to numerous persons about “getting” Hallenbeck, of the oath they took – “I trust under your oaths here you will perform your duty manfully; that you won’t shrink from it because it involves a disagreeable duty.”

After Judge Chester’s charge, the jury began deliberation at 1:10 PM.  At 7:50 that night they returned to court and announced the verdict of guilty in the first degree.

The next morning, Saturday, March 6, 1915, Judge Chester sentenced Tolley to death.  On October 26, 1915, the Court of Appeals affirmed, without an opinion, Tolley’s conviction.  Worthy Tolley was executed on December 17, 1915 at Sing Sing Prison.

Drafted for the Greene County Bar Association Website by Attorney Ted Hilscher on May 17, 2019.