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FEROLETO, OLSZEWSKI SZCZUR WIN COURT RACES

State Supreme Court Justices Joseph R. Glownia and John M. Curran were re-elected Tuesday, and Paula L. Feroleto was elected on her second try for the bench.

Former Family Court Judge Margaret Olszewski Szczur won the race for Erie County Family Court. With 97 percent of the districts reporting, she held 55 percent of the votes, beating the incumbent, Republican Deborah A. Haendiges, 183,564-149,265.

The two incumbent State Supreme Court justices automatically retained their seats, thanks to a cross-endorsement by Democratic and Republican leaders. In fact, Glownia, 57, won his second 14-year term with the backing of five parties.

Both incumbents carried about 30 percent of the vote, or more than 450,000 votes each.

The bipartisan endorsement was especially sweet for Curran, 45, who was appointed last spring by Gov. George E. Pataki. He ran for election to a full term on the Republican, Democratic, Conservative and Independent lines.

A longtime trial attorney, Curran, 45, joined the GOP a year ago, after his mentor in the Democratic Party, Steve Pigeon, lost the party chairmanship.

Soon after that came the Republican governor's appointment to the bench.

The position pays $136,700 a year.

Feroleto won the third Supreme Court seat on the ballot, defeating Acting Buffalo City Judge Frank Caruso, by 359,881 votes to 214,809 votes. Buffalo City Judge Judge James A.W. McLeod got just 2 percent of the vote in Erie County.

Feroleto, 48, a veteran Buffalo trial lawyer narrowly lost last year.

Feroleto was the first female president of the Western New York Trial Lawyers Association. Her work as the Voluntary Lawyers Project coordinator for Brown & Kelly led to the firm's receiving an award for providing free legal representation in tax, Medicaid and family law cases. She also is a lecturer on civil litigation practices for the state and local bar associations.

In 1991 she became the first female partner in the Buffalo law firm of Brown & Kelly. She ran for a court seat this year on the Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Working Families lines.

A 1978 graduate of Georgetown University, Feroleto has experience as a civil and criminal lawyer and has long been active in pro bono legal work through the local Volunteer Lawyers Project. She is currently a board member of Lawyers for Learning, which provides tutors for inner-city children.

This was the first formal run for state-level office for Caruso, 48, who has been an acting Buffalo City Court judge since 2001. A Republican, he has been a full-time Tonawanda town justice since 1995. He is a former deputy city attorney and city prosecutor for the City of Tonawanda.

McLeod, 55, a Democrat, ran on the Working Families line. Olszewski Szczur lost her seat last year after serving her first 10-year term in Family Court. Running on the Democratic, Conservative and Working Families lines, she defeated the incumbent, who was appointed last May by Pataki to fill a vacancy.

Last year she finished fourth in a four-way race for two judgeships. Later she was appointed a court attorney referee for Family Court.

During her term as judge, Olszewski Szczur specialized in child neglect and abuse cases. She created a successful Family Treatment Court to help families plagued by alcohol or drug abuse.

Olszewski Szczur was the first judge to head Family Court's innovative Family Treatment Court section, which is designed to assist families with drug and alcohol problems and shorten the stays of children in foster care. This year she kept her hand in it by working as attorney-referee in that court section.

Olszewski Szczur was one of the top prosecutors in the district attorney's office for 15 years before being elected to Family Court 11 years ago. She has a bachelor's degree from Manhattanville College and a law degree from Syracuse University.

Republican Haendiges, 46, also ran on the Independence line. In Buffalo City Court, Chief Judge Thomas P. Amodeo and Judge Patrick M. Carney were re-elected without opposition.

e-mail: acardinale@buffnews.com

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