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Flynn is appointed to town justice post

Friday's appointment of a new justice in the Town of Tonawanda also may have hastened the voter-approved downsizing of the Town Board.

Councilman John J. Flynn was appointed, by a vote of 4-2, to fill the year remaining on the term of Town Justice Frank Caruso, who was appointed to State Supreme Court earlier this month. The town justice job paid $60,983 this year.

Flynn resigned his seat on the Town Board Friday but said he will continue working at Bouvier Partnership, a general practice law firm in Buffalo where he's an associate in the area of personal injury litigation.

"The Town Court duties will be handled at night," Flynn said.

Admitted to practice law in New York since 1996, Flynn has no bench experience.

"I think that every attorney strives to someday be considered for a judgeship. I think being a judge is the pinnacle of the legal profession," he said. "If any attorney has the honor to reach that stage . . . they take it."

Earlier this year, Flynn was testing the waters for a possible run for the office of Erie County executive next fall. Friday, he said: "I am going to run for town judge next year."

Meanwhile, it's unknown whether the Town Board vacancy will be filled.

In a November referendum, voters overwhelmingly approved downsizing the Town Board from six members to four. Flynn's term was among three that expire at the end of 2007, when only one seat on the board will be on the ballot.

Otherwise, the downsizing takes effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

Is the Town Board obligated to fill the vacancy created by Flynn's resignation?

"I don't believe so, but no one has asked me to take a look at that," said Town Attorney Daniel T. Cavarello.

Town Supervisor Ronald H. Moline said Friday that he has rearranged Town Board committee assignments for 2007 to reflect the reduced board.

"The reason I made the adjustment I did this morning was to provide a glide path for that transition," Moline said.

The vote on Flynn's appointment fell along party lines. Moline and Councilman John E. Donnelly, who are Republicans, opposed it.

Moline openly backed J. Mark Gruber, a Kenmore village justice with 23 years of bench experience. Gruber also is the son of John J. Gruber -- the other town justice.

"I think readiness is an extremely important factor," Moline said, saying that Flynn won't have the usual two months after an election to prepare for his new job.

"Justice Flynn could be called upon as we talk to perform some court-related matter," such as an arraignment, Moline said. "His duties have started. I wish him Godspeed."

Donnelly, who often had contentious exchanges with Flynn at Town Board meetings, said: "It wasn't anything personal."

"I just saw other candidates that had the experience to jump right in," Donnelly said.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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