Probate Judge, Administrator Locked I...

Probate Judge, Administrator Locked In Battle

There are 20 comments on the Hartford Courant story from Mar 20, 2008, titled Probate Judge, Administrator Locked In Battle. In it, Hartford Courant reports that:

How much should a probate court audit cost? Since there are no guidelines, it depends on the court.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Hartford Courant.

Out of Waterbury

United States

#1 Mar 20, 2008
Kimes better watch out. Jim Lawlor is from Waterbury and is where he is because of John Rowland.
downeaster

Ashburn, VA

#2 Mar 20, 2008
probate court judges can be bullies. there is evidence of one requiring the parents of an 18 year old handicapped child hire his niece as her court appointed lawyer, charging them (her estate) 90 for every visit--two a year and the lawyer never came to court. oh by the way, the judge was reviewing how the wards ss money was being spent--bad judge, bad system
Bristol Attorney

Bristol, CT

#3 Mar 20, 2008
it is the good ole boy network. be careful when you practice in a small town far away from home. you will get hammered
Yankee Doodle

Rocky Hill, CT

#4 Mar 20, 2008
It is the scam par excellence. No control, no accountability. Party Hacks pushed into office and never moving on. Getting benefits and pensions while they still hold onto their "private" practice. Can you say "County Probate System".
Mac

Shelton, CT

#5 Mar 20, 2008
It is time to move the entire probate system to the Judicial Department, consolidate the courts, move them into the Judicial District court houses and be done with it. The judges would be full time state employees, just like the Superior Court judges.
Yeah

Liberty, KY

#6 Mar 20, 2008
Mac wrote:
It is time to move the entire probate system to the Judicial Department, consolidate the courts, move them into the Judicial District court houses and be done with it. The judges would be full time state employees, just like the Superior Court judges.
Sure, allow the govt even more control in that kind of stuff.
Levy a small church tax for all churches too then while you're at it, then the govt might be able to afford itself.
Sean

Massapequa, NY

#7 Mar 20, 2008
No more fiefdoms! Let us modernize the court system. Small towns with their own judges and no oversight are the most likely place for person's rights to be infringed upon.

I support a Church Tax! As an Atheist, I'm tired of my taxes being artificially high to support some tired old hateful philosophies.
Mac

Seymour, CT

#8 Mar 20, 2008
Yeah wrote:
<quoted text>
Sure, allow the govt even more control in that kind of stuff.
Levy a small church tax for all churches too then while you're at it, then the govt might be able to afford itself.
You are pretty much a moron. The current probate system is also run by the government, just not very well.
Yeah

Hazard, KY

#9 Mar 20, 2008
Mac wrote:
<quoted text>
You are pretty much a moron. The current probate system is also run by the government, just not very well.
No kidding. But it isn't the govt's responsibilities to handle probate cases for morons that don't know how, and can't seem to fathom that lawyers don't work for free. At least with the current system, if you have half a brain, it's really not that difficult a process.
Mac

Colchester, CT

#10 Mar 21, 2008
Yeah wrote:
<quoted text>
No kidding. But it isn't the govt's responsibilities to handle probate cases for morons that don't know how, and can't seem to fathom that lawyers don't work for free. At least with the current system, if you have half a brain, it's really not that difficult a process.
Well I guess that if it only takes half a brain then it is a pretty good system for you.
Yeah

Eubank, KY

#11 Mar 21, 2008
Mac wrote:
<quoted text>
Well I guess that if it only takes half a brain then it is a pretty good system for you.
Can only assume from your posts, you were talking to yourself then, with your instant name calling, or is that a sign of real intelligence to ones like you? In any case.
At least in the current system, alot of judges only work part time, thus not possibly burdening the govt payrolls further with more costs, let alone backlogs that would no doubt, barely get glanced at for heavy system workloads already.
Mac

Milldale, CT

#12 Mar 24, 2008
Yeah wrote:
<quoted text>
Can only assume from your posts, you were talking to yourself then, with your instant name calling, or is that a sign of real intelligence to ones like you? In any case.
At least in the current system, alot of judges only work part time, thus not possibly burdening the govt payrolls further with more costs, let alone backlogs that would no doubt, barely get glanced at for heavy system workloads already.
Never assume, it makes an a$$ out of u & me. Well in this case only you.
CT Probate Judge

United States

#13 Apr 6, 2008
Probate judges are accountable to an Administrator in West Hartford, as well as to an ethics board composed of judges, lawyers and the general public. Most importantly, we are directly accountble to the public - we face re-election every four years. Our decisions are subject to appeal in the superior court. We are financially audited every year.
Probate Judges have one major scandal in the last 30 years - a Big City Judge [Hartford Judge Kinsella] who resigned rather than face impeachment. A recent smaller scandal involved a small town judge from northeastern connecticut, who was not renominated for re-election when his financial and administrative problems became public; that judge is facing sanctions as both a former judge and as a lawyer. In other branches of state government we have had a governor and legislators resign in disgrace in the last 5 years. I am proud of our record of ethical public service. The reason some lawyers do not like our system is that much work can be done without them, hence no legal fees. If we had large county probate courts or if there was a superior court division of probate, you would need a lawyer to navigate the complexity, red tape, delays, etc. How do people fare without a lawyer in superior court? There are tens of millions of dollars of legal fees that would be charged to the public out of their inheritances - which now the public keeps because lawyers are not needed in many probate cases. As a Probate Judge I have sat down many times and assisted widows or widowers in filling out the forms in uncontested estates. Most estates are uncontested. The rich will always have and need lawyers. Should the middle class and lower middle class now be forced to pay a new lawyers tax on their inheritance, that would result from a massive consolidation of courts? Lastly, people in this state like local government. We abolished wasteful county government in the late 1960s. Returning to county government will only add another layer of wasteful government bureaucracy. Ask New Yorkers how they like paying taxes to four, not three, layers of government.
sheepdog

AOL

#14 Aug 4, 2008
Yeah wrote:
<quoted text>
Can only assume from your posts, you were talking to yourself then, with your instant name calling, or is that a sign of real intelligence to ones like you? In any case.
At least in the current system, alot of judges only work part time, thus not possibly burdening the govt payrolls further with more costs, let alone backlogs that would no doubt, barely get glanced at for heavy system workloads already.
Part time probate judge, part time practicing attorney. Can you say the words "conflict of interest?" In some cases called "collusion?"
sheepdog

AOL

#15 Aug 4, 2008
Bristol Attorney wrote:
it is the good ole boy network. be careful when you practice in a small town far away from home. you will get hammered
I'm not one for "political correctness." Patronage, incestuous relationships best describes "good ole boy network" in my book.

It's also true if your own practice is in a large respected firm in a small town, and have to go before a probate court in a city like Waterbury. You might get hammered and your client might get fleeced. Even abused verbally. Proper, accurate transcripts need to be kept. Open the probate doors to the public.
sheepdog

AOL

#16 Aug 4, 2008
Mac wrote:
It is time to move the entire probate system to the Judicial Department, consolidate the courts, move them into the Judicial District court houses and be done with it. The judges would be full time state employees, just like the Superior Court judges.
Probate courts should be a special division of Superior court. These should not be "statutory" courts, but Constitutional courts.
Probate courts in CT. should no longer be conducted like Witch Trials, but like Constitutional courts. The property/asset poaching should STOP.

As to Superior Courts in CT. Here's an excerpt from Prof. John Langbein's address to the Legislature:

"Connecticut's reliance on nonlawyer judges contributes directly to the wastefulness of our probate procedure. It is the source of the Duplicate Trial rule, that is, the rule that allows appeal de novo to the Superior Court. In this way, Connecticut allows a litigant who is determined to have a contested probate matter heard by a professional judge to do so, but only after making that person pay for two full trials."

Cintinued, READ:
"The worst feature of Connecticut's probate courts is the fee system. These courts are run on the same principle as a Popeye's Chicken franchise or a Midas Muffler store: The proprietor gets paid by the amount of business he or she can drum up. If you run a Popeye's outlet, the more chicken you sell, the more money you make. If you run a Connecticut probate franchise, you are also an entrepreneur who can maximize your fee income by making estates engage in needless filings and seek needless approvals. The more work you impose on estates that don't need it, the more money you make. The more paperwork the judge orders up, the more money finds its way into the judge's pocket. The sad truth is that much of what goes on in Connecticut probate courts can only be called a shakedown."

The WORST part, the result of the above system is that these "entrpreneurs," go out marketing, and trolling for "clients" to put in Conservatorships, thereby robbing them of their civil rights and their Constitutional rights without due process of law along, with taking their property /assets. Yes, a shakedown with the State's blessing whether it be overtly or tacitly.

Langbein continued, RE, Superior Court-READ:

" Our corrupt system of franchise-style probate courts has given the judges a powerful vested interest in preventing reforms that would lower costs and speed probate procedure.

Tarnishing Connecticut Justice

The obvious solution to our probate mess, when you have superior courts as good as ours, and probate courts as disgraceful as ours, is to abolish the probate court and merge it into a specialized division of the superior court. That solution, widely followed in other states, is what the Uniform Probate Code has long recommended."

Terri Alvillar

Pleasanton, CA

#17 Aug 4, 2008
A probate judge says "the rich will always need lawyers" but not the middle and lower classes???? If there were more good probate lawyers and probate judges, the middle and lower classes would be keeping more of their money. For an accurate depiction of what's going on in probate courts across America, see this link:
http://www.primaltrottrot.com/puppets.wmv
sheepdog

AOL

#18 Aug 4, 2008
TO CT. probate judge:
You said, "judges are accountable to an Administrator in West Hartford, as well as to an ethics board composed of judges, lawyers and the general public."

Would you please elaborate on the COMPOSITION of the "ethics" board and explain it's function?
Is it the same as the Grievance board (composition please?), which has a screening panel which determines the "merit" of the complaint before that complaint would be "considered" by the board?

You said, " Most importantly, we are directly accountble to the public - we face re-election every four years."

Are lists of contributors to election campaigns made public? Are they published? I've noticed that most of the time incumbents run unopposed.
Why, then, are campaign contributions even solicited, or necessary?

You said, "Our decisions are subject to appeal in the superior court." Ah yes, appeal.

Here's an excerpt from Langbein:
"Duplicate Trial rule, that is, the rule that allows appeal de novo to the Superior Court. In this way, Connecticut allows a litigant who is determined to have a contested probate matter(sometimes it's a valid contest due to abuse) heard by a professional judge to do so, but only after making that person pay for two full trials."
sheepdog

AOL

#19 Aug 4, 2008
To CT. probate judg,(continued)

You mention two scandals, one from 1986(?) which is widely known about and another "smaller" scandal. Actually, there have been other "smaller" scandals which involved real estate, money appropriations etc., the perpetrators of which were not sanctioned.

You then go on to compare other branches of our government. " In other branches of state government we have had a governor and legislators resign in disgrace in the last 5 years. I am proud of our record of ethical public service."

With all due respect, you fail to mention some other "smaller" scandals which involve HUMAN victims of the CT. Probate system:
Daniel Gross, a visiting resident from N.Y., who was confined to a Nursing home against his will for 10 months by the Waterbury Probate court, his liquid assets "used up" and his home in N.Y. ordered by the Waterbury Probate judge to be sold to pay the two attorneys he had appointed. On adjudication by Superior Court, Mr. Gross was set free, that probate court case having been described by Judge Gormley as "a terrible miscarriage of justice," and his probate court appointed attorney described by Judge Gormley as having "under-represented and mis represented" his CLIENT. AND that Waterbury court had NO juristiction in the first place. The court appointed Conservator "of the person" is now trying to bring the case BACK into the court which had NO JURISTICTION(right) to appoint her in the FIRST place. In other words, in my opinion it was unlawful.

You also failed to mention a woman ( Maydelle Trambarulo) whose residence was in DE(?) and was allegedly taken under false pretenses to CT., who found herself "Conserved" by a Woodbrige Court, and who despite her husband's and families pleas and wishes was DETAINED in a CT. facility for 3 years. Eventually a Superior court released her.
She had no Habeas Corpus rights for three years???

You also failed to mention a German citizen, Margot Claus, resident of NY who was taken to CT., "Conserved" by a CT. probate court, contents of her NY condo removed and a buyer for her condo lined up, before a hearing in a Superior Court released her.
There are more.
You failed to mention those "small" scandals that stripped all civil and Contitutional rights from these people, yet those cases gained national attention in a BIG way.
With all due respect, CT. probate judge, Everyone has their own frame of reference, but yours really must more clearly reflect reality in my opinion.
It is because of these abuses which I believe are just the tip of the iceberg, that you find yourself in the position of having to defend this "system."

You said, "We abolished wasteful county government in the late 1960s."
Yes, Wastefulness is due to fiscal irresponsibility, and that could be remedied. Recall provisions. Removal of some pensions.

At the bottom of all this is the profit motive, along with some people who have no moral compass, No ethics and No social Conscience. Some of GOOD conscience, some who may even be paragons of virtue will unfortunately feel the sting of what some of their colleagues do. That is really unfortunate.
Mac

Seymour, CT

#20 Aug 6, 2008
sheepdog wrote:
<quoted text>Probate courts should be a special division of Superior court. These should not be "statutory" courts, but Constitutional courts.
Probate courts in CT. should no longer be conducted like Witch Trials, but like Constitutional courts. The property/asset poaching should STOP.
As to Superior Courts in CT. Here's an excerpt from Prof. John Langbein's address to the Legislature:
"Connecticut's reliance on nonlawyer judges contributes directly to the wastefulness of our probate procedure. It is the source of the Duplicate Trial rule, that is, the rule that allows appeal de novo to the Superior Court. In this way, Connecticut allows a litigant who is determined to have a contested probate matter heard by a professional judge to do so, but only after making that person pay for two full trials."
Cintinued, READ:
"The worst feature of Connecticut's probate courts is the fee system. These courts are run on the same principle as a Popeye's Chicken franchise or a Midas Muffler store: The proprietor gets paid by the amount of business he or she can drum up. If you run a Popeye's outlet, the more chicken you sell, the more money you make. If you run a Connecticut probate franchise, you are also an entrepreneur who can maximize your fee income by making estates engage in needless filings and seek needless approvals. The more work you impose on estates that don't need it, the more money you make. The more paperwork the judge orders up, the more money finds its way into the judge's pocket. The sad truth is that much of what goes on in Connecticut probate courts can only be called a shakedown."
The WORST part, the result of the above system is that these "entrpreneurs," go out marketing, and trolling for "clients" to put in Conservatorships, thereby robbing them of their civil rights and their Constitutional rights without due process of law along, with taking their property /assets. Yes, a shakedown with the State's blessing whether it be overtly or tacitly.
Langbein continued, RE, Superior Court-READ:
" Our corrupt system of franchise-style probate courts has given the judges a powerful vested interest in preventing reforms that would lower costs and speed probate procedure.
Tarnishing Connecticut Justice
The obvious solution to our probate mess, when you have superior courts as good as ours, and probate courts as disgraceful as ours, is to abolish the probate court and merge it into a specialized division of the superior court. That solution, widely followed in other states, is what the Uniform Probate Code has long recommended."
That was my point, if inarticuately stated. These matters should be handled by full time Superior Court judges, at a set fee.

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