LOCKPORT — The race to replace retiring Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon has gained another candidate.
Sheldon's confidential law clerk, Michael Benedict, announced Wednesday that he will run to replace his boss.
Benedict has previously been an Assistant Niagara County public defender, the City of Lockport’s deputy corporation counsel and a prosecutor for the Town of Hartland.
“After spending the past 15 years in courtrooms, I have gained the experience to be technically qualified for this judicial position, Benedict said. "But legal qualifications are only one part of the equation. In my opinion, the character of a judge is also important.”
Benedict says that he expects character to be a recurring theme in his campaign.
“Niagara County will have a new County Court judge next year," he said. “And Niagara County deserves to have a judge that is representative of the strong hardworking people that live here.”
Benedict earned his law degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law, after attending Onondaga Community College and the State University of New York at Binghamton for his undergraduate studies. He worked Fridays through Sundays at a General Motors plant to pay his way through college.
“My dad worked at GM before me, and I learned a lot of lessons about life there, lessons that matter when you’re sitting in that courtroom,” Benedict said. “I have all the technical skill and experience necessary to be a judge, but hopefully I learned the humility that it takes to be a good judge at that GM plant.”
Benedict spent 10 years as a public defender, representing indigent clients in hundreds of felony cases.
A Lockport resident, Benedict, has coached youth basketball and youth soccer.
Benedict also worked as an attorney at Seaman, Jones, Hogan & Brooks, LLP from 2004 to 2016. From 2012 until his January 2017 appointment as Sheldon’s law clerk, also operated the Law Offices of Michael E. Benedict.
He will challenge Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek, who also served as a law clerk to Sheldon.