Aaron Frazier's legal and life experience make him uniquely qualified to serve as the next Rochester City Court judge.
Mr. Frazier currently serves our community as a litigator at the prestigious law firm of Harris Beach PLLC (referred to hereinafter as "the firm"). Mr. Frazier has represented small and large businesses, governments and public servants, non-profit organizations, and individuals throughout his tenure at the firm, successfully helping his clients resolve lawsuits involving complicated issues of contract law, business law, tort law, intellectual property law, civil rights law, real property law, constitutional law, tax law, family law and criminal law.
On behalf of the firm and its clients, Mr. Frazier has personally argued numerous cases in the United States District Courts and state Supreme Courts, prosecuted or defended numerous trials in Monroe County Family Court, argued appeals before the state Appellate Division, and represented parties in each of the criminal, landlord-tenant and small claims parts of Rochester City Court, as well as in other city or town courts in upstate New York. In his most recent jury trial, Mr. Frazier represented a prisoner for free by leading the prosecution of the prisoner's claims against guards accused of misconduct.
Harris Beach routinely assigns Mr. Frazier defense work when one of the firm’s clients is sued by a self-represented plaintiff because the firm trusts Mr. Frazier's ability to quickly master new areas of law, and knows that he has the patience, compassion, and professionalism, in addition to the skill, to handle such sensitive cases and productively interact with adverse parties who do not have an attorney.
Mr. Frazier is a member of the firm’s diversity council and is very proud of his contributions to the firm’s successful efforts to recruit and retain diverse talent. The firm recently hired several diverse law graduates whom Mr. Frazier mentored when they were in law school. Mr. Frazier has distinguished himself at the firm as an attorney who is collaborative, intelligent, and versatile. Mr. Frazier will bring those qualities to the bench as your next Rochester City Court Judge.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Frazier served as a law student prosecutor for both the Monroe County District Attorney and the Ithaca City Prosecutor. He served as a prosecutor for those officials after being granted special practice orders by Appellate Division courts which allowed him to practice law as a law student. In addition to personally prosecuting his own caseload of misdemeanor and violation cases, Mr. Frazier assisted felony prosecutors with their case preparations and jury trials.
Mr. Frazier has been litigating cases involving vulnerable populations since 2004 when he argued his first case, as a mere teenager, in Rochester Teen Court, before the Hon. Roy W. King. Mr. Frazier was an active litigator in that program, serving as both a prosecutor and defense attorney until spring 2008. During his Rochester Teen Court tenure, Mr. Frazier litigated approximately 75 jury trials from jury selection to verdict. Rochester Teen Court cases are real cases in which specially trained teen attorneys and teen jurors determine sentences for real teen defendants, under the supervision of an adult local judge.
Mr. Frazier's experience with Rochester Teen Court gave him a deep appreciation for the power of positive peer pressure, and the power of Rochester City Court to make sure a young person’s first negative interaction with the justice system is their last one. Mr. Frazier's experience in Rochester Teen Court also gave him a deep appreciation for the importance and the power of having men of color on the bench.
Mr. Frazier was raised in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Rochester by a mom who was single for significant stretches of his childhood, and who worked two and even three jobs at a time to support his older brothers and him. Although his mom had little to offer in terms of material resources, and often struggled with her own health issues, she instilled in Mr. Frazier a deep appreciation for the power of education. And yet, Mr. Frazier's own academic successes and the encouragement of an amazing black woman like his mom were not enough to convince him that he could one day be a lawyer or a judge.
It was not until Judge King told Mr. Frazier to go to law school after Judge King presided over a Rochester Teen Court case Mr. Frazier tried his sophomore year of high school, that Mr. Frazier truly believed the legal profession was an option for him.
Mr. Frazier instantly put Judge King on a pedestal; characteristic of his renowned wisdom and humility, Judge King responded to Mr. Frazier's adoration “I have chinks in my armor like everyone else.” Judge King inspired Mr. Frazier while teaching him about modesty and taking accountability for one's mistakes. Mr. Frazier hopes to inspire other at-risk young men and boys of color the way Judge King inspired him.
Mr. Frazier is a graduate of Harvard University, Cornell University, and the Rochester City School District's School of the Arts. He is the first in his immediate family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Mr. Frazier earned a full ride scholarship to Harvard, and a half ride scholarship to Cornell. Despite half his law school expenses being covered by scholarship, Mr. Frazier still graduated law school almost $130,000 in student loan debt given the high cost of higher education.
Despite many opportunities to take lucrative jobs in big cities, Mr. Frazier immediately returned to Rochester to practice law upon completing his education because he is committed to the Rochester community. He is a proud Rochester homeowner, residing near the intersection of Portland Avenue and Norton Street on the city's northeast side. Mr. Frazier grew up on the city's west side. Mr. Frazier remembers his family moving frequently around the west side throughout his childhood to avoid evictions. He even sometimes did his homework under candlelight because his family couldn't pay the power bill. Mr. Frazier also knows the impact on families when one of their loved ones is incarcerated. Mr. Frazier's big brother was imprisoned at the Monroe County Jail for a period during Mr. Frazier's childhood. Mr. Frazier is thankful for those difficult times because they made him and his family stronger and closer.
Rochester City Court will be well served by the proven diligence, integrity and support network that allowed Mr. Frazier to defy the odds. Mr. Frazier's professional experience, personal story, diversity, and relative youth make him uniquely qualified to bring a fresh perspective to the bench, as well as connect with the young men of color who appear in Rochester City Court as defendants. Mr. Frazier knows the struggles of the Court’s litigants. Mr. Frazier is the primary male role model to his two amazing goddaughters in elementary school who are being raised by working single moms. One of Mr. Frazier's goddaughters is the daughter of his big brother who lost his battle with cancer in 2017. Mr. Frazier knows intimately the importance of compassion and respect when dealing with fragile or vulnerable people. Mr. Frazier also knows Rochester City Court. The high caseload of Rochester City Court actually excites Mr. Frazier because it presents a challenging opportunity to help more people.
As a Rochester native and experienced but younger black male attorney who went from poverty to the Ivy League, Mr. Frazier is uniquely positioned to help Rochester City Court produce a high quality of justice, while giving representation to the next generation of our community, and enhancing the public’s faith in the Court.
Mr. Frazier humbly asks for your support as we work together toward a new generation of justice!
Aaron Frazier, Candidate for Rochester City Court Judge