Fred Larson will be the new second full-time Jamestown City Court judge.
On Monday, Jamestown City Council approved the appointment following Larson's nomination from Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi. In March, it was announced the state had determined the city needed a second full-time judge. Prior to this decision, the city had one full-time judge, John LaMancuso, and a second part-time judge, George Panebianco.
Panebianco had the option to assume the new full-time role, but declined to do so in order to continue his law practice. Teresi then went through the selection process to find a new judge. Teresi would not say how many candidates he selected Larson from, but did say there was a ''deep pool'' of people who expressed interest in the position.
''I have come to this decision in anything but a light and cursory fashion ... but rather following what has been a very challenging, difficult and, at times, nerve-wracking process evaluating a large number of eligible and highly-capable candidates,'' Teresi said. ''I strongly believe that Mr. Larson is eminently qualified for this position, as demonstrated over the years ... through a whole variety of community service endeavors ... his commitment to making our city a better place, and I am convinced that through his firm, but fair approach on the bench, will continue to serve our community well and with distinction during the coming years.''
Larson, who currently is a county legislator representing Jamestown and board members for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, will have to step down from those positions to be the new judge, Teresi said. Larson will also have to make arrangements to transfer his legal practice and fulfill an orientation and training process required by the state Office of Court Administration. The mayor said there is no exact date yet on when Larson will become the city's second full-time judge.
However, given the existing and growing court calendar, Teresi asked the City Council to wave its standard appointment approval rules and act upon the nomination at the meeting. All but one member of City Council voted to wave its standard appointment rules. Brent Sheldon, Ward 1, voted against not following standard procedure. Also, he was the only one to vote against the appointment. Sheldon said his ''No'' voted had nothing to do with the candidate, but feels it should be an elected position. He said other communities in the state expanding the number of full-time judges have selected to make it an elected position.
''This is something that should be voted on by the people,'' he said.
Teresi said, as the stature is written currently, the new judge will have a 10-year term. At the end of the term, the mayor will either reappoint the judge to the position or could appoint a new candidate. He said the judge is not currently an elected position like LaMancuso's, who was elected to his third 10-year term last fall. The new second court would be held in Jamestown City Council's chambers on the second floor of the city's municipal building, located at 200 E. Third St.
Larson is a graduate of Jamestown High School, Princeton University and the Yale Law School. Larson has been in the private practice of law for more than 35 years. He is a member of the Jamestown Bar Association, New York State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
He has served as an at-large City Council member from 1979 to 1982 and, prior to his election last fall, also was a member of the County Legislature from 1985 to 1993. Larson served as county attorney from 1998 through 2005. He has served on the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities from 1979 to 1989 and from 2008 to present. For the past seven years, Larson has been an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Fredonia where he teaches business law. He previously taught at JCC. Larson lives in Jamestown with his wife, Wendy. They have two sons, Eric and Peter.