Attorney John J. Ottaviano of Lockport on Tuesday announced his candidacy for Niagara County Court Judge and Surrogate.
With his announcement, Ottaviano joined attorney and law clerk Michael Benedict in the race to succeed county judge and surrogate Matthew J. Murphy III, who will retire at the end of 2021.
Ottaviano currently is First Assistant Niagara County Attorney and is in private practice as well.
Of his pursuit of a judgeship, he said, “I will bring 34 years of vast legal and life experience to this important role to ensure that justice is firmly and fairly administered in all county and surrogate court proceedings. My skill set of critical thinking, creative reasoning and problem solving across a multitude of legal arenas makes me best and uniquely prepared to discharge these important duties.”
Ottaviano began his legal career in 1986 clerking for Niagara County District Attorney Peter L. Broderick. In the DA's office he wrote legal briefs in opposition to convicted felons seeking to appeal their convictions and sentences, and was later assigned to assist in the prosecution and trial of defendants charged with various felonies. Then, as an Assistant County Attorney for four years, Ottaviano prosecuted youthful offenders in Niagara County Family Court.
Ottaviano was appointed Corporation Counsel for the City of Lockport in 1993 and stayed in the post for 25 years, via appointment by both Republican and Democratic mayors. He says his major accomplishments as the city's lead attorney include: creating ship mortgages for the loan that helped launch Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises; steering remediation and renovation of Richmond Avenue (now Canal Street); the acquisition through litigation of the South Block for development as Ulrich City Centre; and the acquisition through foreclosure and development of the former General Motors complex (now Harrison Place).
Ottaviano also is the founder of Lockport Ice Arena Inc., the not-for-profit corporation that raised $15 million to develop and build Cornerstone CFCU Arena. He believes that's his greatest accomplishment on behalf of the community.
“When you put your mind and heart into a matter, along with your knowledge and experience, results can happen," he said. "People said to me time and again, 'John move on, it just isn’t going to happen.' Well, my team and I kept chipping away and now it proudly stands and operates for our youth and community in the middle of downtown Lockport.”
Ottaviano has been in private practice since 1986, starting with the law firm Earl, DeLange, May, Jones & Schmidt. He established his own firm in 1993 and been associated with Harris Beach, PLLC and Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf & Cunningham, LLC. He served on the Appellate Division-Fourth Department Attorney Grievance Committee, Eighth Judicial District, from 2007 through 2013; and is a delegate for the Eight Judicial District Convention. He's also a past president of the Lockport Bar Association.
In 2016, Ottaviano was recognized by the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating Process as Distinguished-Very High Rating in both legal ability and ethical standards.
Ottaviano is admitted to practice in New York and the District of Columbia, and admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Western and Southern Districts of New York, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of New York, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second and Third Circuit.
Ottaviano is a 1985 graduate of Western Michigan University Law School, where he received a pair of awards for achievement in the study of criminal law.
Ottaviano was born and raised in Lockport, where he currently resides with his wife of 31 years, Christine Ottaviano. They have four children, Olivia, Taylor, Alexandra and John III, and two yellow labs, Diesel and Olive.