Erie County Family Court Judge Kevin M. Carter is a proud Buffalonian who has served in the Erie County Family Court system for more than a decade, beginning May 2002, with his first Gubernatorial appointment by George E. Pataki. Later that year in November of 2002, Kevin Carter was duly elected by the people of Erie County to serve a ten-year term of office.
In his capacity as an Erie County Family Court Judge, Carter presides over approximately 6,500 cases each year – from intake to trial and disposition. His cases primarily involve child custody and visitation, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquencies, Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS), family offenses, paternity, and adoptions.
In the Spring of 2008, Carter was designated as the acting New York State Supreme Court Justice by JudgeSharon Townsend, who at that time was serving as the Administrative Justice for the Eighth Judicial District. Today, Kevin Carter has the longest tenure of service as a family court judge of any of the eleven judges currently serving in Erie County, and has the distinction of being the only African American among that group of judicial leaders.
As a husband and loving father of three children, Judge Carter knows the importance of family. He understands the emotional and moral strength it takes to raise children – “compassion, patience, and a strong family bond.” These are the qualities that he brings each day to the courtroom to help children and families throughout Erie County.
Judge Carter has shown his deep commitment to the children and families of our community, both inside and outside the courthouse. He works with children of every ilk, as well as families throughout Western New York by way of his involvement with “stay in school” projects, and mentoring programs sponsored by the University at Buffalo Law School, and Buffalo State College. He even had his own internship program as part of his law practice. Judge Carter routinely visits schools throughout Erie County as a guest speaker to deliver his message of accountability, respect, and perseverance, to parents, educators, youngsters, and all those who care for our children.
When asked about Judge Carter’s visit to Sweet Home, Robert McDow, Director of Finance and Plant Services, of the Sweet Home Central School District, replied, “He is what we all could hope a judge would be, a great family man of integrity who remembers his roots, and is still connected to the youth and community that he represents. We were honored to have Judge Carter visit our students at Sweet Home. The greatest compliment our students could give him is their continual request for him to visit them again in the very near future.”
Judge Carter currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Frontier Council, and the Boys Scouts of America, and is a life member of the NAACP. He also can be heard on various radio talk shows such as Law Line, the radio series sponsored by the Erie County Bar Association, where he discusses family law and the functions of the family court system, as well as offering information on vital services and other resources that are available to help our community.
Prior to taking the bench, Carter was a sole practitioner for nearly ten years with offices located in Buffalo’s Kensington/Bailey neighborhood; there he practiced general law with a concentration on domestic relations law. Judge Carter’s history as an active advocate and practitioner is extensive. He served in the New York State Supreme Court and in various other courts as well as family courts in New York State, along with spending time practicing law in Federal Court. As a practicing attorney, Carter also represented children in cases involving custody, visitation, juvenile delinquency, and PINS.
In 1998, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court for the Fourth Judicial Department recognized Kevin Carter for his distinguished service to the Law Guardian Program in the Eighth Judicial District, by naming him “Law Guardian of the Year”.
Carter became an associate in the law firm of Sullivan & Oliverio in 1999, where he concentrated in general civil litigation. When reflecting on his time at Sullivan & Oliverio, Carter speaks glowingly of the lawyers there, specifically Richard T. Sullivan, Esq., whom he credits with: “teaching me how to practice law
In addition to practicing law, from 1992 – 2002, Judge Carter was a full-time professor of Criminal Law and Procedure at Erie Community College. He also served as an adjunct professor of Criminal Law and Procedure at Canisius College from 2002 – 2009. For him, teaching is a passion, “There’s nothing like seeing your former students do well in life and to think that you may have had some influence there,” Carter remarked.
In serving as a community leader, Judge Carter not only shows his dedication and commitment to putting children first, but seeks to teach and instill these same principles in to the parents of our communities. As Brandon A. Portis, Esq., Confidential Law Clerk to Judge Carter, said when asked to reflect on some of the things that resonate with him about the judge’s message to the parents that appear before him, he commented, “Judge Carter always says: the children didn’t ask to be here. They are here as a result of a decision you made. We have an obligation and responsibility to protect them because they lack the ability to protect themselves.’”
Judge Carter successfully balances his personal responsibilities as a husband and father along with his judicial service and his community leader efforts. These are commitments that Judge Carter takes seriously and without any reluctance. His motto is “Fairness For Families.”
Kevin M. Carter is a graduate of Canisius College where he received his BA Degree in 1986, and earned his Juris Doctorate in 1989 from the SUNY Buffalo School of Law.
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