Ithaca, N.Y. — A self-described “kid from the NYC projects” who drove a tractor-trailer before going to Cornell Law School was appointed interim city court judge on Wednesday.

Seth Peacock, a private practice attorney in Ithaca focusing on criminal, civil and family law cases, was appointed by Mayor Svante Myrick in a ceremony at City Hall. He will replace Judge Judith Rossiter, who is retiring.

“It is truly humbling that a kid from the NYC projects who never knew his father could first become an attorney and then judge,” Peacock said in a statement.

“I have tried my best to serve the young people of our community and I hope to continue as judge by reestablishing a youth court, enhancing our drug court program, and analyzing our other alternatives to incarceration programs for their efficacy.”

Peacock ran unsuccessfully for Tompkins County Court judge and has served on the Ithaca High School’s Board of Education since 2005.

Peacock is from New York City, where his mother worked as a secretary. Peacock, his mother and older sister lived in a low-income apartment complex, according to Peacock’s campaign page.

His mom worked a second job as a waitress.

Seth Peacock

“His mother would come home late at night with what seemed like mountains of coins that she had collected as tips,” the campaign page states. “They would count the coins together to see how close they were to their goal.”

Eventually, Peackock’s family saved enough to move out of public housing. Later in life, Peacock, his wife Dawne and their two children moved to Tompkins County.

Peacock worked as a tractor-trailer driver and was a Teamsters Union member for an international airfreight company, the campaign page states. There, he was elected as shop steward.

Peacock worked as a truck driver for 10 years before a tragedy took his life in a different direction.

“After the early death of his mother, Seth decided to go back to school to earn his college degree,” the campaign page states. “Seth attended college during the day and drove tractor-trailers during the nightshift.”

“Seth would study in his truck parked on the Kennedy Airport runway during his meal break.”

Peacock has been vice president of the Ithaca City School District’s Board of Education since 2010. He has four children — three enrolled in ICSD — and also coaches youth sports.

Peacock will serve as Ithaca city judge along with Hon. Scott A. Miller for the remainder of Judge Rossiter’s term. Rossiter retired after serving as court judge since 1993, according to city officials.

An election will be held to replace her. Three candidates, including Peacock, are known to be in the race, according to attorney Richard Wallace, who is also one of the candidates.

A press release from the city said Myrick met with five candidates for the post before making his decision.

“There were many qualified applicants,” Myrick said, “but it was Mr. Peacock’s balance of legal experience, proven commitment, ties to the community and innovative ideas to address some of the challenges faced in City Court that made him stand out.”

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.