Citing the experience of Michael Sullivan in the Family Court during the past 25 years, Anna Wilcox, Chautauqua County Conservative Party chairwoman, announced the party's endorsement of Sullivan for Family Court judge.
"Mr. Sullivan discussed his years of experience, including being an attorney in 1,135 proceedings in the Family Court during the last five and a half years alone. He has presented children, parents, guardians and in what he described as a growing trend, the grandparents in family court," Wilcox said. "He described his representation of children, facing the trauma associated with family problems in the court system as most rewarding, and necessary in today's world."
In addition to representing children and their needs in the courts, Sullivan has served for over 20 years as the liaison attorney from Chautauqua County to the Fourth Departments Attorney for the Children Program. This program provides the panel of attorneys who represent children in Family Court.
"Not only does he advocate for children in the courtroom, he also participates in the program at a level involving direct input with the decision-makers to improve the program as well as training of attorneys," Wilcox continued. "He dedicates a large portion of his private law practice to family law. That court experience and his behind-the- scenes work has made him most prepared to help our children and families in the future as a Family Court judge."
In acknowledging the endorsement, Sullivan said, "In addition to my work representing children, parents, and most recently grandparents in Family Court, I have worked diligently to advocate for decisions and settlements to help families resolve the traumatic experiences that bring them to Family Court. Outside of the courtroom I have volunteered hundreds of hours on the Family Treatment Court team from initial planning 12 years ago and continuing through 10 years of operations. I have accepted a role on the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project and 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 working of this court and to make the court experience a little less traumatic, especially for the children we serve."
New York laws require the appointment of an attorney for children in courts when their parents are litigating custody and visitation; when the child has been abused or neglected; and when a child under the age of 16 has committed an act which would be a crime if they were an adult.
Sullivan was on the Planning Committee for the Chautauqua County Family Treatment Court. This court began operation 10 years ago offering parents with drug addictions the opportunity to participate in an intensive Family Drug Treatment Court. The outcome has been dozens of successful graduates and many babies born to participants that were drug-free at birth.
"The Family Court deals daily with the most traumatic issues of everyday life," Sullivan said. "This court is unique in its role of facing the trauma suffered by families. Experience with these issues is the measure to assess a potential judge."
"There is still much work to do and as a Family Court Judge for Chautauqua County I will put my full effort and attention to both adjudication of the cases before me and working to improve the experience of participants in the court. Family Court is for many people their only experience with the judicial system and it comes with the most trauma. I have the experience from my practice and my service on improvement projects to make a difference in the court and the lives of the people of Chautauqua County," Sullivan said.
Sullivan has practiced law in New York since February 1985 and has maintained his law office at his current address, 7 E. Main St. in Fredonia since 1991. A graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton (Ohio). He is a member of the Northern Chautauqua County and Erie County bar associations. He is the attorney for the child liaison from Chautauqua County to the Fourth Department Appellate Court program. He serves on the New York State Child Welfare Court Improvement Project Steering Committee. He is co-chair of the Adolescent Subcommittee. Sullivan is also a panel member on the New York State Surrogate Decision Making Committee. Sullivan is a past member of the Chautauqua County Court Appointed Special Advocate board of directors.
Sullivan is a 25-year member of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Salvation Army Advisory Board. He served 14 years as a member of the SUNY Fredonia College Council, from 1997 until 2011.
He continues to be an active member of the Fredonia Volunteer Fire Department having served the community in that fashion for 30 years. Sullivan is a member of St. Joseph's Church in Fredonia. He resides in Fredonia with Valerie and their grandson, Joshua.