Baysider tapped for federal judgeship

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President Clinton nominated longtime Bayside lawyer Nick Garaufis for a federal district court judgeship Monday, the first time a Queens resident has been recommended for the post in a decade.

Garaufis, who has served as chief counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration since June 1995, was recommended for the nomination by U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).

"I'm honored to be nominated by President Clinton for the federal judiciary," he said in a telephone interview. "And I deeply appreciate the confidence that Senator Moynihan displayed in me with this recommendation."

The nomination depends on the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

James Ward, the district executive for the federal court for the Eastern District, said the last time a Queens resident was appointed to a federal judgeship was in 1990 by then-President Bush and in 1981 by President Reagan.

Garaufis, who lives with his sons Jamie, 14, and Matthew, 11, in Bayside, graduated from Bayside High School and served in the reserves at Fort Totten before establishing his law practice in 1978.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1969 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1974.

Garaufis began his career as an associate with the Manhattan law firm of Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside & Wolff from 1974 to 1975 and worked as an assistant attorney general for the state Department of Law from 1975 to 1979.

After serving as counsel to former U.S. Rep. James Scheuer (D-Bayside) from 1983 to 1985, Garaufis worked as chief legal counsel for Borough President Claire Shulman for nine years before being appointed to the FAA.

Shulman said Garaufis "will be an outstanding judge. President Clinton has nominated one of the finest lawyers in Queens County to the bench. His service and dedication have been established over the years and we are very proud."

A community activist from the start, Garaufis did legal work for the East Bayside Homeowners Association and the Bayside Volunteer Ambulance Corps. before volunteering as chief legal counsel for U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside).

Ackerman said he was "elated" to hear of Garaufis' nomination.

"I've worked with Nick for a long time on many community projects," he said. "I couldn't be more pleased. He's a big community advocate, and he's super qualified."

Ackerman and Garaufis worked together on several projects, such as the preservation of Fort Totten and a six-year legal battle to remove city sanitation and highway trucks from land in Cunningham Park.

Garaufis was also a member of School Board 26 from 1977 to 1983. He was the chairman of the after-school and continuing education committee and the school board president in 1979-1980.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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