Dysfunctional, Abusive, Unfair Connecticut Courts:
Probate Judge Sanctioned
Zuckerman Sought Campaign Money From Lawyers Appearing Before Him
By KIM MARTINEAU | Courant Staff Writer
January 12, 2008
MADISON — - A local probate judge who solicited campaign cash from lawyers appearing in his courtroom has agreed to disqualify himself from hearing any contested matters those lawyers may have, the state probate administrator announced Friday.
Judge Phillip Zuckerman agreed to the sanction after two lawyers complained to the probate administrator that they felt pressured to give money or risk unfavorable treatment in court. Some of the fundraising letters, sent by Zuckerman's wife after the 2006 election, contained personal entreaties from the judge.
Probate judges are the only elected judges in Connecticut, and the case in Madison has renewed calls to make the position appointed, to limit the role of politics and the potential for corruption in the courts."Maybe it's time to stop electing judges," said Robert Killian Jr., the probate judge of Hartford. "It's one more nail in the coffin of a system that hasn't kept up with modern times."
State Probate Court Administrator James Lawlor chose to resolve the ethics complaints against Zuckerman himself rather than seek a public reprimand from the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct, a board that operates in near-secrecy and rarely finds anything wrong.
Since the legislature expanded his powers last year, Lawlor has had authority to take cases away from judges, a bargaining chip he used to reach a swift settlement with Zuckerman this week.
The judge has since returned the contributions he received — an amount he estimated at less than $500 — and offered a public apology. "As a novice in running for office I realize that I was not as conversant as I should have been with all the different aspects and nuances of fundraising and the ethical implications," he wrote.
A Democrat who practices law in New London, Zuckerman spent $18,000 to unseat the longtime probate judge, Republican Carol Lougee, who does not hold a law degree. He won by less than 250 votes.
Under the ethics settlement, Zuckerman will disqualify himself from any contested cases in which he signed a personal note asking for cash. More than 100 lawyers across the state received the fundraising letter but not all of them got personal requests from the judge. In the past week Zuckerman has disqualified himself on eight matters, to be heard by the judge in Chester, at a cost of $250 a day.
The probate courts are largely autonomous, paying the judge's salary and other expenses from the fees charged for such matters as handling estates and adoptions. Lawlor says he intends to bill Zuckerman for the cost of the replacement judge, which will eventually come out of his salary. The part-time job, in 2005, paid $70,000. The fees generated by the disqualified cases, though, will still go to Zuckerman's court, possibly canceling out any financial penalty.
At least one study of the probate courts has suggested improving public confidence by limiting the role of money in judicial campaigns. In 2003, a task force of lawyers and probate judges recommended limiting lawyer contributions to $100 and law firm contributions to $1,000.
"It doesn't help a judge at all to have people wondering if campaign fundraising has any influence on the judge's handling of his or her case," said Hartford lawyer Tim Fisher, co-chair of the task force.
Fundraising is a problem even when done by the book, said Killian, who last faced an opponent 19 years ago. He expressed sympathy for Zuckerman, who until recently was a little-known lawyer in Madison.
"I'm blessed — I'm a Democrat in Hartford," he said. "If I have the endorsement of the party I don't have the likelihood of an upset by a Republican candidate."
Contact Kim Martineau at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant
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My comment to the Hartford Court piece:
quote from Courant acticle:
"The probate courts are largely autonomous, paying the judge's salary and other expenses from the fees charged for such matters as handling estates and adoptions."
With the state increasing the number of judges even though the Connecticut population is stagnant or going down, means that alternative revenue collection methods are used.
Running as many citizens through courts and putting as many in prison means Connecticut get Federal Dollars. For years juries were shown a VHS tape of how to find defendants guilty, but nothing about reasonable doubt or finding defendants innocent was shown on the tape! Juries are tampered with and judges tell defendants to plead guilty, whether guilty or innocent, or are threatened with jail when no lawyer is present if they aren't rich and connected!
If judges are paid with adoptions, then DCF taking and making false reports so kids can illegally be kidnapped and adopted out is getting to be more the rule than the exception so judges get maximum pay. A typical DCF victim:
Elderly citizens that travel through Connecticut that get sick, can be put in mental hospitals, drugged, and have Connecticut lawyers appointed for them in their "best interest" while the Connecticut courts and lawyers pick over the carcasses of the elderly that have worked, paid taxes, and saved their entire lives. The heirs are denied their inheritance. Check the comments section of this post for what is typical Official Connecticut citizen abuse:
Judicial Branch employees talk about corruption, jury tampering, evidence tampering, and the shanenigans of judges and judicial branch management, here:
At your taxpayer dollar expense the Judicial Branch gave a questionnaire to 500 individuals that frequently use the judicial system, so we are probably talking about lawyers that were selected to take this survey:
The Judicial Branch gave themselves an A, there is quality, everyone has faith in the system, and everyone feels safe and served in the Connecticut court system according to the Judicial Branch:
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I was the only one who filmed this judicial branch scam:
The public comment is hidden from the public and the members of the Public Service and Trust Commission of the Judicial Branch hearing, which is the above link.
If these members aren't given information, just told that the Judicial Branch has an amazing 85% public approval rating, where McDonald's probably wouldn't score as high and people want to go there.
The judicial branch committed fraud, check the above link.
Judicial Branch attorney Melissa Farley has the public comment in her office that was not given to the commission.
If the Courant does a Freedom of Information request asking who was paid and how much for the graphs and survey in the above link, it would prove the scam. Reviewing what was said and the courant having the public comments that were suppressed in Melissa Farley's office would show what the Connecticut judicial branch is trying to get away with behind your back.
Judges shaking down lawyers and making them fear retaliation is small potatoes to what is really going on. The magnitude of the Federal Taxpayer fraud the injury to humanity is staggering.
Judges and judicial branch employees were informed of felonies being committed in this video:
If the judges and other officials did not inform the proper investigative authorities with the information should the entire panel in the above video be arrested and charged for this?: