Meet Judge Caroline Morrison
Judge Caroline Morrison has been a Rochester City Court Judge for the past seven years. She has presided over thousands of criminal cases and hundreds of civil matters during that time. Judge Morrison understands many of the issues individuals are dealing with when they appear before a judge because she has lived through and overcome some of the same obstacles.
Judge Morrison is a native of Rochester and grew up in an impoverished neighborhood on the north east side of the city. She spent her early years in foster care and was adopted at the age of eleven. Three years later she was declared a P.I.N.S. (Person In Need of Supervision) and placed on probation by a Monroe County Family Court judge. She spent the next three years in and out of group homes and was ultimately placed in a juvenile residential facility near Ithaca, New York. She became a mother at the age of seventeen and returned to Rochester where both she and her child were signed back into the foster care system.
Judge Morrison was fortunate to find a foster mother willing to take both her and her infant son in, which allowed her to finish high school. She graduated from East High School and went on to complete her undergraduate and law degree.
In addition to handling a full city court caseload, Judge Morrison has served as an Acting County Court Judge for the last two years handling both misdemeanor and felony criminal charges in the Opioid Stabilization Part (“Opioid Court”). The Opioid Court is an intensive supervision court designed to stabilize people at risk of overdose from opiates and put them on a solid path to recovery. Individuals complete the court within ninety days but have sometimes requested to remain in the court longer due to the structure and resources the court provides.
Prior to being asked to preside over the Opioid Court, Judge Morrison served as a full time Acting Family Court Judge where she was responsible for making decisions in child neglect and removal proceedings, child custody trials, juvenile delinquency and P.I.N.S. cases.
Judge Morrison served the residents of Monroe County as an Assistant District Attorney for nine years before she became a judge. She handled thousands of misdemeanor charges and hundreds of felony charges, including violent felonies and some homicides. Judge Morrison developed a reputation for being a fair and reasonable prosecutor during her time in the office whose goal was to seek justice, not convictions. She was the first prosecutor to earn the distinction of the Daily Record’s “Up and Coming Attorney” award in 2011.
In 2013, she became the first African American female to serve in a supervisory position (Deputy Bureau Chief of Local Court Bureau) at the Monroe County District attorney’s office. During her time as Deputy Bureau Chief, she helped train attorneys and supervised the prosecution of all misdemeanors in both the city and surrounding town courts. In addition, she was awarded the “Pioneer Award” by the Rochester Black Bar Association (“RBBA”) for her new role as the Deputy Bureau Chief of the Local Court Bureau.
Outside of the courtroom, Judge Morrison has consistently found opportunities to give back to our community and mentor young people. She has volunteered at numerous schools in the Rochester City School District, served on the board of Teen Empowerment, and participated in voter registration drives. From 2008-2011, Judge Morrison helped organize the RBBA’s Annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner and fundraisers for the Flower City Soccer League. She currently participates in the 7th Judicial District’s J.U.S.T. Law Program.
Judge Morrison is married, the mother of three adult sons, and “Nana” to two beautiful granddaughters.