By Christian W. Peck
Niagara County Public Information Officer
Niagara County's newest judge began the week in Albany, attending specialized training, while her staff settled in at the Niagara County Courthouse in Lockport.
Judge Erin DeLabio, the former Wheatfield town justice elected last fall to succeed long-serving Family Court Judge John Batt, took her oath of office over the holidays before family and supporters. In remarks to an assembled crowd of more than 200 family and well-wishers, the new family court judge noted that growing up in a family of eight children had given her new role a special appeal.
"The chaos of a big family and the love and support from a large family brings me before you today," DeLabio told supporters. "When I came out of law school it was just so natural for me to work with families. And it was always my passion to help them fix their problems and, if they couldn't be fixed, to neutralize the situation. The core desire was to always protect children."
DeLabio, who practiced family law as a private attorney, pointed to her background.
"I have represented spouses escaping abusive relationships, children torn by the struggles of seeing their parents fight," DeLabio said. "I have represented families wanting to adopt a foster child. Throughout my practice I have dealt with times of pain and sorrow and also great joy in people's lives. Family Court is the one court where all of these things intersect."
DeLabio brings significant experience to her new post. In addition to serving on the bench in Wheatfield, DeLabio has served as law clerk to Niagara County's other Family Court judge, Kathleen Wojtaszek Gariano.
DeLabio offered a pledge to the community she serves after Gariano administered her oath.
"I will be compassionate. I will be hard at times. But, most of all, be decisive, and have the courage to do what is best for children, families and the community," DeLabio said. "I will always strive to be fair. I expect that my work will make the lives of those who come before me better."