Michael J. Flaherty, Jr. is a career prosecutor committed to justice, compassion and integrity as District Attorney of Erie County. Upon taking office as Acting DA in January 2016, Flaherty is the 30th person to become the chief prosecutor in Erie County.
Most of Acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr.’s long and distinguished law career has been spent at the Erie County District Attorney’s Office tirelessly seeking justice for crime victims and making our county a better, safer place to live.
As Erie County’s First Assistant District Attorney since 2010, Flaherty supervised the prosecution of approximately 30,000 criminal cases each year, and instituted changes that held more offenders accountable and protected the most vulnerable members of our society, including women, children and the elderly. He has overseen tough prosecutions of violent crimes, corrupt public officials and drunk drivers who threaten the safety of everyone.
He was appointed in 1993 by the late Hon. Kevin M. Dillon as an Assistant Erie County District Attorney where he served for the next twelve years. During that time, he worked in several bureaus, including the Special Investigations and Prosecutions Bureau, the Homicide Bureau and the Special Victims Bureau where he successfully prosecuted violent felonies involving sex offenses and child abuse. Flaherty successfully prosecuted some of the county’s most heinous crimes, including assisting in the successful prosecution of two local capital offense cases. The first involved successfully prosecuting Jonathan Parker for Murder in the First Degree after the shooting of two Buffalo Police Officers, that claimed the life of Officer Charles “Skip” McDougald. In the second case, Robert Smith was convicted of First Degree Murder and other charges in connection with the fatal stabbing of Henry and Eugenia Kaminski. Both defendants were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Michael also assisted in the successful prosecution of anti-abortionist James Kopp, who murdered Dr. Barnett Slepian in the Fall of 1998.
In June 2005, Michael left the District Attorney’s Office and entered private practice working at his father’s law firm, Flaherty & Shea, and also served as a legal assistant to the New York Board of Law Examiners, creating, administering and grading the New York State Bar Exam. During that time, in 2006, Michael chaired the Public Safety Sub Committee of the Erie County Charter Revision Committee which recommended improvements to the Erie County Charter.
He rejoined the Erie County District Attorney's Office in January 2009 where, for seven years, he served as the chief prosecutor under District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III. During that time, Flaherty convicted corrupt government employees, including elected officials, who betrayed the public trust by misusing taxpayer dollars. He has been a representative on important boards and organizations, such as the Best Practices Committee of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York. From 2003-2005 and since January 2009, Michael has been a member of the Alternatives to Incarceration Advisory Board. This board studies and recommends rehabilitation and punitive programs for offenders with an eye toward reducing overcrowding in our correctional facilities by identifying those offenders who can safely serve their sentence outside of jail.
In 2009, Flaherty served as a Special District Attorney for Cattaraugus County on an Elections Law Fraud investigation that resulted in the conviction of a local party chairman. After being promoted to First Assistant District Attorney, Flaherty investigated and prosecuted a man who caused a lockdown in a Buffalo school for carrying a gun. In 2010, he prosecuted the individuals responsible for shining a laser pointer at an Erie County Sheriff’s Department helicopter and was the prosecutor on the slashing of a young woman outside Club Roxy’s during the early morning hours of January 1, 2010.
Michael has also personally prosecuted and supervised the prosecution of some of Erie County’s most notorious, violent criminals. He has kept women, children, and the elderly safe from physical and sexual violence - both inside and outside their homes. From the crime scene to the courtroom, Michael has built the cases that have locked up gang members who bring violence, guns and drugs into our communities.
Flaherty is a firm believer in the benefits of education. He has headed the office’s legal education program and routinely served as a faculty member at the National College of District Attorneys National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina and lectured for the New York Prosecutors Training Institute. He continues to teach hundreds of police cadets as well as seasoned veteran officers at the Central Police Academy.
Flaherty has also played a major role in securing federal and state grant funds targeted toward helping victims of domestic and sexual abuse, victims of human trafficking and victims of gang and gun violence.
Since being named Acting District Attorney in January of 2016, Michael has recommended common sense reforms to the Erie County Code of Ethics to add transparency to government and help restore the public’s confidence in our elected officials.
Michael is a University of Notre Dame graduate who received his Juris Doctor cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law. After graduating from UB Law School, where he served as an editor of its Law Review, he began a two-year clerkship as a legal assistant to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. He remained with the Court for an additional year to serve as a confidential law clerk to the late Hon. James H. Boomer.
He is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court, Western District of New York and the Supreme Court of the United States. He has been cross-designated by the United States Department of Justice as a Special Assistant United States Attorney.
Flaherty is a 2014 recipient of the Morgenthau Award, which is given to a prosecutor whose professional accomplishments best epitomize honesty, integrity and commitment to the fair and ethical administration of justice.
He recently served a term as the president of the Notre Dame Club of Buffalo & Western New York and is a congregant and member of the Finance Committee of the Newman Center at Buffalo State College.
Michael lives in Buffalo with his wife Amy, their two daughters, Bridget and Beth and their bullmastiff, Rori.more » « less