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Eagan appointed by mayor to fill City Court seat ; West Side resident was a former prosecutor before starting her work at Appellate Division

Buffalo's newest City Court judge may know the ins and outs of the judicial system better than anyone already on the bench.

Susan M. Eagan, a lawyer with the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, emerged from a field of 15 applicants Monday as the newest City Court appointee.

Except for a five-year stint as a prosecutor, Eagan has spent her entire law career as a court employee, most recently as the Appellate Division lawyer investigating the ethical conduct of other lawyers.

"I saw this [as] an opportunity to expand my impact on the community," Eagan said of her appointment by Mayor Byron W. Brown.

Eagan said she learned of the City Court vacancy in a Buffalo News story about the election of former Judge Henry Nowak to State Supreme Court and Brown's efforts to find a successor. The appointment is for one year, which means Eagan will have to run for a full 10-year term if she wants to keep her judgeship. An adviser to Brown said she intends to seek a full term this year.

The judgeship pays $113,900 a year. Court officials said Eagan will spend the rest of this week at an out-of-town orientation for new judges before returning here for an official swearing-in ceremony.

"I have cases waiting for her," said Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo. "As you know, Buffalo City Court is a very busy place."

Amodeo, Brown and City Judge Craig D. Hannah were on hand Monday for the announcement of Eagan's appointment. The mayor described Eagan as a woman of "strong ethics" and said her extensive record of public service made her a strong candidate to replace Nowak.

A graduate of Canisius College and the University at Buffalo Law School, Eagan began her career as an Appellate Court attorney who helped the courts with pending civil and criminal cases.

She later became the associate counsel to the Attorney Grievance Committee, but only after five years as an assistant Erie County district attorney. As a local prosecutor, she handled a wide range of cases, including sexual abuse and child abuse crimes.

Eagan also is known in legal circles as a co-founder of Lawyers for Learning, an organization that partners local lawyers with elementary school students in need of educational assistance.

Eagan lives on the West Side with her husband, James, and their two children, Reilly and Katie.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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