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2 judges square off in 3 primaries

Two veteran judges are vying in the Sept. 13 party primaries for the $125,600 seat on the six-judge Erie County Family Court.

Incumbent Patricia A. Maxwell, 50, is running for her second 10-year term on the domestic affairs court against Buffalo City Court Judge Sharon M. LoVallo, 42, who has been an acting Family Court judge since 2007. The two are vying in the Democratic, Republican and Independence party primaries.

Maxwell, a former private attorney dealing with family and matrimonial issues and a Town of Boston justice between 1994 and 2001, is endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties.

LoVallo, once the top arson prosecutor in the Erie County District Attorney's Office and a City Court judge since January 2003, is endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties.

The two candidates are endorsed by reportedly opposing factions of the Erie County Independence Party, which are fighting over local control of that party's operations.

LoVallo earned her law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School in 1994.

Active in the community, LoVallo is assistant coach of the Holy Angels Academy Mock Trial team and does volunteer work at St. Luke's Mission of Mercy, the We Care Neighborhood Block Club and the Hertel-North Park Youth Baseball League.

Maxwell earned her law degree at UB in 1987.

Currently vice president of the New York State Family Court Judges Association, Maxwell is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and, under appointment by the state's chief judge, is a member of the New York State Tribal and State Court Forum.

On the Forum, she works with members of the Seneca Nation of Indians to develop programs for members and jurisdictional guidelines for the State Court and the Peacemaker's Courts. She frequently lectures on Indian Child Welfare Law and Native American Law.

Maxwell, as the endorsed Conservative Party candidate, will remain on the November general election ballot even if she should lose the other three primaries to LoVallo.

Maxwell and LoVallo have each been rated "Well Qualified" by the Bar Association of Erie County. The Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commissioner of the state's Fourth Judicial District rates Maxwell as "Highly Qualified" and LoVallo as "Qualified." The Western New York Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York has rated Maxwell "Outstanding" and rated LoVallo "Highly Qualified."

email: mgryta@buffnews.com