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Pataki taps Caruso for state courtInvalid word space value

Town of Tonawanda officials will have to work between the holidays to find a replacement for a town justice called to a higher court.

Frank Caruso has been appointed by Gov. George E. Pataki to a one-year, interim term serving the Eighth Judicial District of State Supreme Court, officials announced this week.

Caruso has been a town justice since 1995. His current term expires at the end of 2007. He also has been an acting City Court judge for Buffalo since 2001.

Caruso ran unsuccessfully for State Supreme Court in 2005.

Meanwhile, Timothy J. Walker of Eden has landed another judicial appointment from Pataki.

Walker has been confirmed for a seat on the State Court of Claims, which hears civil actions against the state. His term runs through July 31, 2014.

Appointed by Pataki earlier this year to fill a vacancy on State Supreme Court, Walker lost in the November elections to Timothy J. Drury. Walker was unsuccessful in a 2005 bid for the same office.

Both state judgeships pay $136,700 annually.

The Tonawanda Town Board will hold interviews Wednesday for the town justice job, which paid $60,983 this year. Applicants must live in the town and be admitted to practice law in the state, or be certified following training.

A temporary certificate could be issued to a nonlawyer, Town Attorney Daniel T. Cavarello said Wednesday. "At least in theory, someone could be appointed without that certification," he said.

Resumes for the job will be accepted until noon Tuesday at the town's Legal Department. "I have received three resumes so far," Cavarello said.

But the Town Board cannot make an appointment for the job until Caruso's resignation takes effect sometime late next week; the unofficial date is Dec. 29.

The Town Board's next meeting isn't until the evening of Jan. 2. Ideally, the new justice would be on the bench that afternoon.

Tonawanda Town Court has two justices. Each handles traffic, criminal and trial sessions once a week, and small-claims court twice a month.

Caruso is working to clear his caseload before leaving Town Court, said Denise Doxbeck, clerk of the justice court.

"As of right now, Judge [John J.] Gruber has been filling in for everything," Doxbeck said.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffbews.com

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