Attorney John J. Ottaviano, of Lockport, announced he is running for Niagara County Court judge and surrogate in 2021 to succeed the Hon. Matthew J. Murphy III. Ottaviano currently serves as first assistant Niagara County attorney and remains in private practice.
“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,” Ottaviano said, “My skillset 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. There, he wrote legal briefs in opposition to convicted felons seeking to appeal their convictions and sentences. Ottaviano was then assigned by Broderick to assist then-Assistant District Attorney Claude A. Joerg in the prosecution and trial of defendants charged with various felonies. Then, as an assistant county attorney, for four years, Ottaviano prosecuted youthful offenders for various felonies and misdemeanors in Niagara County Family Court.
In 1993, Ottaviano was appointed corporation counsel for the City of Lockport and held that position for 27 years, serving both Republican and Democrat mayors throughout that period. As corporation counsel, Ottaviano handled all legal matters for the city. His major accomplishments include creating ship mortgages for the loan that helped launch the Murphy Boat Tours; 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 Center).
Ottaviano said his most proud accomplishment is his 10 years of volunteer service as founder and president of Lockport Ice Arena Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that raised $15 million to build a state-of-art, twin pad ice arena.
“When you put your mind and heart into a matter, along with your knowledge and experience, results can happen,” Ottaviano 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 Earl, DeLange, May, Jones & Schmidt; created his own firm in 1993; and been associated with law firms of Harris Beach PLLC and Rupp, Baase, Pfalzgraf & Cunningham LLC. He served on the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, attorney grievance committee; Eighth Judicial District from 2007-13; was a delegate for the Eighth Judicial District convention; former president of the Lockport Bar Association; and former president of the Kiwanis Club of Lockport. In 2006, he was voted best attorney by the readers of a local newspaper.
In 2010, he was recognized by Buffalo Business First, Buffalo Law Journal in Who’s Who in Law. 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. In 2018 he was recognized as a Lockport High School Distinguished Alumnus.
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 graduated from Niagara University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business and economics, and from Western Michigan University Law School in 1985 where he received the Raymond Burr Award for Academic Excellence in Criminal Law and the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellent Achievement in the Study of Criminal Law.
Born and raised in Lockport, Ottaviano currently resides with his wife of 31 years, Christine. They have four children (Olivia, Taylor, Alexandra and John III), and two yellow labs (Diesel and Olive), all of which they adore.