A local attorney with extensive experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney was sworn in today as Schenectady’s newest City Court Judge.
Mayor Gary McCarthy selected Mark J. Caruso for the judgeship, saying Caruso will be “a true asset” to City Court.
Caruso has spent the past 11 years as Schenectady County Public Defender, heading up that office of defense attorneys. He formally resigned from that post this morning ahead of the announcement.
Prior to that, he served a decade as a prosecutor, spending that time first in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office and then in Albany.
Caruso said he was “honored and humbled” by McCarthy’s decision to appoint him.
In accepting, Caruso noted his background as both prosecutor and defense attorney. He said he knows how important cases are to victims as well as defendants.
“I know that this job as City Court judge involves in part finding the proper balance between those two competing interests,” Caruso said.
He vowed to treat both sides fairly and equally and with respect and professionalism.
McCarthy selected Caruso from among five total candidates to fill the City Court judge seat vacated when Judge Matthew Sypniewski won election to County Court.
Caruso joins City Court’s three other judges: Guido Loyola, Mark Blanchfield and Robert Hoffman.
Caruso’s appointment also marks the first time the city has had four active judges.
The fourth judgeship started Jan. 1 when Hoffman took office. That was the same time Sypniewski vacated his seat for his higher judgeship.
The added judgeship prompted concerns about space and even talk about leaving the spot open longer. McCarthy said last month that he found a temporary plan to reconfigure City Hall, making room there.
Caruso’s swearing in and acceptance speech were tempered by family tragedy, Caruso told the crowd. He planned to leave immediately after the ceremony for Massachusetts to be with family. His niece Michelle Batista was found murdered last week in her Framingham apartment in a domestic violence murder-suicide. Her boyfriend killed her and then killed himself, according to Caruso and media accounts.
With Caruso today were his two daughters, age 22 and 19.
Caruso graduated from Union College in 1989 and then earned his law degree from Albany Law School in 1992.
He served in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office from 1993 to 2001, rising to oversee the office’s domestic violence prosecutions.
He moved to the Albany County District Attorney’s office in 2001, serving there into 2004. He then returned to Schenectady County as the county’s top public defender. He headed that office until this morning.
County officials said they are working to find his replacement as soon as possible.