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Sedita’s first duties as a judge will be at a distance

Erie County’s departing district attorney, Frank A. Sedita III, will begin his first year as a State Supreme Court justice at a comfortable distance from the criminal courtroom – and from the County Courthouse in downtown Buffalo.

The longtime prosecutor is heading to Mayville, the seat of government for Chautauqua County, where he will be in charge of the civil case calendar.

This will be the first time that a Sedita has not been on the bench or in the District Attorney’s Office in Erie County in nearly 40 years. Sedita’s father, Frank A. Sedita Jr., became an associate City Court judge in Buffalo in 1976 before going on to Family Court, Housing Court and eventually State Supreme Court.

The move to Chautauqua County was expected for the departing district attorney. Sedita would not be able to adjudicate any Erie County cases that were investigated by his office.

For the same reason, Chautauqua’s new county judge, David W. Foley, will be starting his term in Erie County, where he will be hearing criminal cases. Foley was district attorney in Mayville for 10 years and an assistant district attorney for 10 years before that. He was elected to succeed County Judge John T. Ward, who retired July 30.

Another Erie County prosecutor, Homicide Bureau Chief James F. Bargnesi, ran unopposed for the Erie County Court position being vacated by Judge Michael L. D’Amico, who is retiring at the end of the year. Bargnesi has been assigned for now to Niagara County, where he will preside over cases in Drug Court, among other duties.

Foley, meanwhile, fills the D’Amico vacancy.

Administrative Justice Paula L. Feroleto, who is in charge of the judicial assignments, opted to keep State Supreme Court Justice Paul B. Wojtaszek in Mayville to handle criminal cases until Foley can take over. Wojtaszek, a former Niagara County legislator, was elected in 2014.

Emilio Colaiacovo is the 8th Judicial District’s other new State Supreme Court justice, elected on the same ballot as Sedita. Colaiacovo lives in Erie County, but he will begin his term hearing civil cases in Batavia for Genesee County, where Judge Robert C. Noonan has been serving in a multibench capacity. Colaiacovo has specialized in matrimonial and family law in his private practice.

Michael F. Pietruszka, an Erie County judge since 1999, also will be assisting in Genesee County, presiding over criminal cases for at least part of 2016. He will continue to maintain chambers in Erie County.

Not all judges will be spending 2016 on the road. (They aren’t paid mileage, no matter where their official chambers are).

Danielle M. Restaino was elected to Niagara Falls City Court, and, because she is coming from private practice, she can go right into her permanent position.

The same goes for Mark E. Saltarelli, a private practice attorney who succeeds retiring City Court Judge Joseph J. Cassata in Tonawanda.

Brenda M. Freedman won’t even be changing buildings. Before her election to Family Court in Erie County, she was a Family Court referee.

Daniel R. Palumbo also is making it official in Olean with changing chairs. After serving as a part-time Olean City Court judge and sharing the responsibilities of Judge William H. Mountain III with Salamanca City Judge William J. Gabler when Mountain retired, Palumbo will now be the full-time Olean City Court judge.