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Perinton Justice Arnold retiring

Town board will name replacement

By: Bennett Loudon//September 24, 2020

Perinton Justice Arnold retiring

Town board will name replacement

By: Bennett Loudon//September 24, 2020//

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Perinton Town Justice Michael H. Arnold is proud that, in 20 years on the bench, he never had to bang his gavel.


“It’s on TV they bang the gavel all the time. If you need to bang a gavel it means you’ve done something wrong and you’ve lost control of everything,” said Arnold, who is retiring. “The reality is, you talk to people nicely, you treat them civilly and you listen to what they have to say and you make whatever decision is necessary.”

At 60, Arnold and his partner, Beth Moscarelli, who also is retiring from her position as senior counsel at Paychex, want to “move on to some other adventures,” he said.

A Pittsford-Mendon High School graduate, Arnold received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Buffalo and his law degree at the University at Buffalo School of Law.

Arnold started his legal career as an assistant corporation counsel for New York City for four years. He worked in the division prosecuting juvenile delinquency petitions.

“I appeared routinely in front of Judge Judy (Sheindlin) because she was a Family Court judge in Manhattan when I first started,” Arnold said.

Sheindlin was the star of a reality television show for 25 years in which she adjudicates real-life small claim matters with a no-nonsense approach.

“As a brand new lawyer, appearing in front of her was a fantastic experience because you learned immediately to come to court prepared, be succinct and don’t try to pull the wool over her eyes,” Arnold said.

From 1989 to 2015 Arnold partnered with Robert Place at the law firm of Place and Arnold, in Fairport. From 2015 to 2019, Arnold was of counsel at Barclay Damon LLP. Arnold has been a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee since 1996.

Arnold was originally appointed to fill a vacancy with the town court. His current term would have ended in December 2021. The Perinton Town Board is expected to name a replacement soon.

Arnold and Moscarelli have already started with the adventures they hope to have in retirement.

They have signed up to help several non-governmental organizations through an organization called Farmer to Farmer to provide their professional expertise in developing countries on projects mostly related to agriculture or business.

Last fall they spent two weeks in Nigeria working with a casaba farmers and processors, providing expertise on contract farming and human resources.

“It’s not like a vacation and being a tourist. It’s sort of like the Peace Corps for two weeks,” Arnold said.

In December they spent two weeks in Guyana, in South America, doing similar work.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic led to travel restrictions, they had plans to go to the Dominican Republic to work with a dairy cooperative.

“Literally we got the tickets and the next day the world shut down,” Arnold said. “Now we have to wait a while for things to normalize. But our intent is to continue doing these kinds of projects,” he said.

Arnold, a recipient of the William E. McKnight Award for Volunteer Legal Services, expects to complete four or five two week assignments annually.

But Arnold, who also served as acting Fairport Village Justice, said he will miss serving on the bench.

“Town court is one of the most gratifying and enjoyable experiences a lawyer could do,” he said. “Town court is often described as the court closest to the people, which is so true, because, for most people, their only experience with the judicial system is they got a ticket, or they have a little dispute, and so they want to go to small claims court, or they have a landlord tenant problem.

“Their experience there is really profound for most of them …  so it’s gratifying to be able to be in a position where you can hopefully show people that courts work well, they get a fair shake, they get to be heard, and hopefully they walk away feeling as if they’ve been treated well,” he said.

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