Family Court Candidates Step Forward

So far, two local attorneys have formally announced their candidacies for the newly created position of a second Chautauqua County Family Court judge.

Both Michael J. Sullivan and Sally A. Jaroszynski believe their extensive backgrounds in law qualify them for the position’s 10-year term if elected in November.

Sullivan announced his candidacy on Monday, which he said coincides with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s creation of the new position for Chautauqua County, reported in June.

“In addition to representing people in Family Court, I have worked diligently to improve the experience of those appearing in the Family Court,” Sullivan said, adding that Chautauqua County Family Court is in the midst of a New York State Child Welfare Court improvement project. “I have served for three years as the only private practice attorney on the Chautauqua County Steering Committee. We have brought forward several innovations to improve the work of this court and our efforts are ongoing.”

He has acted as the county liaison to the Appellate Court’s Attorney for the Child program for almost 20 years.

Jaroszynski has also been involved with the Attorney for the Child program, representing children through the Family Court process.

She is employed by Chautauqua Region Law Center as legal director, and said she has an extensive background in private practice representing parties in custody, visitation, support, neglect, abuse and matrimonial matters.

Both candidates have represented neglected and abused children.

“Some of the most difficult, but also most rewarding work in Family Court is representing the children,” Sullivan said. “Great efforts are being made by various court improvement committees to train the people who work and practice in Family Court to understand the trauma people appearing in Family Court have suffered and continue to face. Experience with these issues is the measure to assess a potential Judge.”

Jaroszynski announced she is seeking endorsements from the Democratic, Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties.

She is currently a second-term town justice in the town of Ellicott, and was elected in November.

“In this position, I’ve gained several years of valuable judicial experience,” she said.

She began practicing law in 1993 and has received Congressional recognition for her work in providing civil legal services to low-income Chautauqua County clients.

Sullivan has practiced law in New York since 1985 and has maintained his law office at 7 E. Main St. in Fredonia since 1991.

He said there is much work to be done as a Family Court judge, but added that he would focus his attention on both adjudication of cases and working to improve the experience of court participants.

“Family Court is for many people their only experience with the judicial system and it comes with the most trauma,” he said. “I have the experience from my practice and my service on improvement projects to make a difference in court and the lives of the people of Chautauqua County.”

Jaroszynski said as Family Court judge, she will bring both her knowledge and experience as a Family Court attorney and sitting town justice to all matters facing families in Chautauqua County.

She said the issues that arise in Family Court can be very complex and almost always emotionally fueled.

“This position is one that must take all factors presented, weigh those factors and apply the law in hopes of creating a positive outcome for the family involved,” Jaroszynski said. “The people of Chautauqua County deserve a Family Court judge who is experienced in making decisions. They deserve a Family Court judge with knowledge, dedication and experience.”

She is a lector and catechist for Our Lady of Loreto Parish, a board member for the Lucille Ball Little Theatre, past vice president of the Falconer Central School Board of Education and current co-parent chair of the Lucille Ball Junior Guilder program.

Sullivan is a member of Northern Chautauqua County and Erie County Bar associations. Additionally, he is a panel member on the New York State Surrogate Decision Making Committee. For 25 years, he has been a member of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Salvation Army Advisory Board, and is a former member of the SUNY Fredonia College Council for 14 years.

He continues to be an active member of the Fredonia Volunteer Fire Department, having served for 30 years.

Sullivan is a member of St. Joseph’s Church in Fredonia.