2019 candidate for City Court Judge, Aaron T. Frazier, if elected, will join Judge Steve Miller, the only ‘male’ African American currently serving in the city’s judicial courts.
Because of Frazier’s age of 30 years, knocks against candidates of such youth, usually begin with the description of someone who lacks experience, immature or an idiom some of our senior constituents are familiar with that describes such persons as, wet behind the ears.
However with Frazier, you have to keep that horse in the stable. He’s young and started young. As a teenager, he began participating in programs that offered professional training, equipping the young legal enthusiasts with the nuts and bolts needed to fulfill his dream to become a lawyer or a judge. Currently, Frazier serves our community as a litigator at the law firm of Harris Beach PLLC, representing small and large businesses, governments and public servants, non-profit organizations, and individuals.
Prior to joining the firm, Frazier served as a law student prosecutor for both the Monroe County District Attorney and the Ithaca City Prosecutor. And had been litigating cases involving vulnerable populations since 2004.
“I was really into the legal TV shows when I was a kid,” Frazier recalls. “Law and Order, The Practice, Boston Legal, those good TV legal dramas. At that time, my mom was dating a man name William Turner, which they're not together now, but I have continued to affectionately refer to him as my step-father. And he continues to be a good friend and mentor and resource to me.”
Frazier’s mom and Will saw Aaron’s deep affinity for the legal field and decides to dedicate time taking him to courthouses housed throughout the city to watch real cases.
“Hollywood loves to dramatize and exaggerate to keep people interested in the shows,” Frazier says. “They wanted me to be able to compare and contrast what the legal profession really looks like from a different view than how Hollywood portrays it. So, in my Sophomore year in high school, on Spring Break, my mom, Will and I went to a courthouse every day of Spring Break to watch cases that included low-level criminal cases in city court, felony murder cases on the dockets at the county’s courts and supreme court and civil cases.”
After the fourth day, the bailiff came up to Aaron and asked--,[What he’s doing there every day? It’s Spring Break, he chides. You don’t have anything else better to do?]
Aaron reply’s, I’m thinking about becoming a lawyer.
After hearing his reason, the bailiff suggest Aaron visit Rochester Teen Court.
“Before, I had no idea, what Rochester Teen Court was,” Frazier says. “Nor that it existed. So immediately, I went to the office. Before I could participate in the program, we had to take a training class and pass a teen court bar exam to become certified to act as an attorney in teen court and the rest was history.”
Frazier argued his first teen court case at the age of 15 years.
“I’ve been blessed to find my blessing in life very early,” he says. “I had figured out, I wanted to be a lawyer towards the end of middle school, and then my parents, along with teen court sealed the deal. When you know, what your destiny is and why the good Lord have placed you on this Earth, it’s very easy to get out there and serve,” he points-out.
Nonetheless, we cannot underestimate the inspirational power of having black men on the bench; especially at the city court level.
“So many young black men come through city court, because they got into situations and got into trouble, and made bad decisions that’s entirely attributable to not having a positive black role model in their life,” he continues. “They’re likely to gravitate to someone, who looks like them and can explain and emphasize their value and talents. That’s something I can bring. And I know how powerful that is, because that’s my story,” he notes. “I argued my first teen court case before the late Hon. Roy King. He was one of the only black judges, when he was serving. After the case, he pulled me aside and said, I got what it takes to go to law school,” Frazier recalls. “When he said that, it humbled me and motivated me, like nothing else. Because, I didn’t know it was any black judges, before I started working in teen court. When I went into that courtroom and saw a regal, professional and intelligent black man like Judge King on the bench it was inspiring. And to have that same person tell me I can actually make something out of my life, is one of the things that allowed me to stay on a good path and chase my dreams. And that’s something I can do for so many others.”
“And add into the facts, I come from the same trouble neighborhoods and I’m still relatively young,” he continues. “So, the young men of color, who are the majority that comes through city court will be able to relate to me in a way I don’t think any other candidate will be able to do. It’s common sense and human nature that people are more likely to be persuaded by, inspired by, and obey the orders and directives and judgement of someone whom they feel they can relate too or someone they feel have traveled the same road as them. That’s something I can bring.”
Currently at the city court level, Steve Miller is the only black male judge overseeing a judicial district that stretches from the lake north of us, to the Pennsylvania border, south of us.
“That’s a huge district and there’s only one black judge of all the judges,” Frazier implies. “And I know firsthand, how powerful alternatives to incarceration can be and I know the power of restorative justice. I was trained in both of the latter mentioned during my time with Rochester Teen Court. Teen Court is about rehabilitation and not punishment. Sentences were designed to help young people grow, mature and change. Punishment handed down included anger management, drug and mental health evaluation, peer pressure training and other similar programs, along that line. So, I knew firsthand, the powerful impact of those type of creative alternative sentencing measures. It’s a talent, I’ve acquired,” he highlights. “And the fact, city court is a lower court, so you’re dealing with a lot of first-time offenders, a lot of young people and a lot of people who do not have an extensive criminal records. So, there’s a lot of potential there to do some life changing, course altering work. And I feel, I have the story, credibility, and the knowledge and creativity to do that.”
Campaign website: AaronFrazier.com
Campaign Facebook page: Aaron Frazier for Rochester City Court
Campaign email: FrazierforCityCourt@gmail.com
Campaign telephone: 585-406-1190
Campaign mailing address: Friends of Aaron Frazier
PO Box 90388
Rochester, New York 14609