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WATERTOWN — The new part-time City Court judge just thought he was qualified for the position so he applied.

And local attorney Eric T. Swartz knew he had to move into the city if he wanted the seat on the bench.

Asked why he decided to seek the part-time position, Mr. Swartz said, “because I qualify. I’ve practiced 23 years and presided over 53 or 54 trials.”

There was some question last week about whether he qualified for the $27,200-a-year position because he lived outside of the city and it had a residency requirement.

He moved into a rental property on Park Avenue in the city right after the new year. His wife and five girls will be joining him soon after their schooling is finalized, he said.

Mr. Swartz said he approached Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith about the position after hearing that the mayor was looking for attorneys who live in the city.

Now that he has the position, Mr. Swartz resigned as the Watertown town justice. He was going to take the oath of office on Friday morning.

He will serve a six-year term.

The vacant part-time judge position was recently established by state lawmakers. The position was created by state lawmakers after eliminating a full-time City Court judgeship.

Mr. Swartz will have to recuse himself from any cases that involve people he represented for the past two years and for cases that involve rental property that he owns.

Bradford Riendeau was the other local attorney who was interested in the judgeship. He said that he had no problem with the way that the process was handled or the appointment of Mr. Swartz.

“He’s more than capable,” Mr. Riendeau said.

Mr. Swartz was appointed as a town justice about a year ago and ran unopposed for the town justice position in November and won. Mr. Swartz was one of two attorneys who applied for the City Court judgeship.

Mr. Swartz, a 1992 graduate of Syracuse University, has been an attorney since 1994. Now confirmed, Mr. Swartz will work on the bench about one day a week and a total of about 10 hours a week.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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