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CORPORATION COUNSEL WILL NOT SEEK JUDGESHIP

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano announced Friday he will not run for Niagara County Court this year, saying he likes his city job, his private law practice and spending time with his family.

"I don't want to preside over 90 percent felony cases for the rest of my life," he said, adding that his private practice is primarily commercial, with criminal work being handled by his partners.

Ottaviano, 38, had said March 4 he was thinking about entering the race to succeed County Judge Charles J. Hannigan, a Lockport Republican who is not seeking re-election.

Ottaviano's decision not to run leaves Lewiston Town Justice Peter L. Broderick, a former Niagara County district attorney, as the only announced Republican in the race for the 10-year term.

Niagara Falls Chief City Judge Mark A. Violante is the only announced Democrat in the race.

Ottaviano also cited time considerations in deciding against running for County Court.

"I knew a countywide race would take seven months of my time," he said. "I wouldn't be able to leave my firm or resign as corporation counsel. I'd have to do all three at once, so a countywide race would cut away what little time I have with my family."

Ottaviano has a 7-month-old son and three daughters, ages 3, 5 and 7.

He said the firm he founded 12 years ago, Ottaviano, Koplas and Blackley, is "on the rise" and taking time away from the firm might harm it.

Ottaviano also said it would be hard to rebuild a practice if he won the election but left the bench later.

He added that if he were elected, he would have to resign as the city's attorney. "I wouldn't want to do that to Kenny (Mayor Kenneth D. Swan) and the Council," he said.

Ottaviano said he is still interested in becoming a judge at some point in the future.

Broderick, 61, a Niagara County prosecutor from 1969 to 1981 and DA from 1981 to 1992 who was elected Lewiston town justice in 1996, said he feels he is "uniquely qualified to make the important decisions which need to be made in the handling of the serious felony cases in (County) Court."

He said he has "personally tried nearly 100 felony jury cases, with a better than 90 percent conviction rate."

He has worked the other side, too, having served as an assistant public defender in 1967 and 1968.

Violante has served for 12 years as a Niagara Falls City Court judge and practiced law for 19 years. He was appointed chief City Court judge in 1996.

He also has served as a Niagara County assistant district attorney, an assistant public defender and an assistant Niagara Falls corporation counsel.

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