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MAR 24 - MAR 31, 2015

Three for Two City Court Judge Race Offers Voters Opportunity to Weigh Evidence and Rule on Candidates

March 24, 2015

David G. Boniello
Danielle M. Restaino
Mark A. Violante

The voters have a choice this year.

As of press time, there are three announced candidates running for two positions in the all-important election of Niagara Falls City Court judges this year.

In December, Chief City Court Judge Mark A. Violante, 64, announced he will seek another 10-year term. If successful it will be his fourth term.

In January, Niagara Falls attorney Danielle M. Restaino, 31, announced she is running for city court judge.

In her initial announcement she said she was running to fill the seat of Judge Angelo J. Morinello who will be turning 70, the mandatory retirement age for judges in New York.

But when Niagara Falls lawyer David G. Boniello announced in March that he is running, it changed the dynamic. The three candidates will compete for the two open positions. The highest two vote getters win election.

Violante, 64, was born in Niagara Falls and lived here most of his life and has been a judge in this city for 28 years and four months, assuming the bench in December 1986.

He has been chief judge of city court since 1996 and also is an acting County Court Judge since 2000, presiding in Drug and Mental Health Court, and Criminal and Civil Dockets.

In fact Violante helped set up the county's first drug court and domestic violence court. He also set up housing court in Niagara Falls, as well as a mental health court.

Violante got his law degree from the South Texas College of Law, and was admitted to the New York State bar in 1977.

Boniello, 62, has had his own law practice since 1982, and is a former Niagara County assistant district attorney from 1982 to 1993. He is also former assistant town attorney in Lewiston and former town prosecutor in Wheatfield.

Boniello received his law degree from the New England School of Law.

Restaino, 31, is an attorney in the Falls and is on staff at the Niagara County Public Defender's Office. She received her law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School and was admitted to the bar in 2010.

Ironically only Restaino is young enough to complete the 10 year term based on the state's mandatory retirement policy of age 70.

But running and filling a seat with less than 10 years to retirement is not new.

Retiring Judge Morinello, who was first appointed by Mayor Irene Elia in 2002, was elected to serve 2003 - 2012, and reelected in 2013 - when he was 67 years old - could only serve three years of a 10 year term and now is retiring.

As we reported last week all three candidates are from prominent legal families in Niagara Falls. Restaino's father is former City Court Judge Robert Restaino, Violante's brother is Michael Violante, the Niagara County District Attorney, and Boniello's brother is State Supreme Court Judge Ralph Boniello.

At least one other local lawyer - also from a prominent legal family - has contacted the Reporter saying he is contemplating running also and said he hopes to make an announcement in this publication shortly.

According to, a Chief Judge in Niagara Falls earns $115,100, and a City Court Judge earns $113,900. According to, Violante, as chief city court judge and acting county court judge, earned $152,500 in 2014.

In addition to Judges Violante and Morinello, there are two other city court judges presently serving: Judges Robert Merino and Diane Vitello.

Merino was elected to serve from 2007 to 2017. Vitello was appointed by Mayor Paul A. Dyster in June 2008 then won election for a ten year term starting January 2009.





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Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina