Thursday, August 14, 2008

Court Insiders Impenetrable

A group of insider has resisted reforms for generations despite attempts from some elected officials, editorials newspaper boards and good government groups to reform the Surrogate Court. The last attempt to clean up the court came from Senator Kennedy over 40 years ago. Elected officials for the last generation have avoided court reform to avoid clashing with the powerful legal firms connected to the court. Their constituents who suffer from court’s high fees drawn from their estates are not as important.

“It means taking on a whole culture, which is entirely resistant to change. That is the fundamental difference between me and Renee Roth – real reformers cannot go along,” said Karen Burstein who was challenging Judge Renne Roth re-election to the Surrogate Court. “But the surrogate said she tried internally to overhaul procedures a decade ago, only to have a senior judge block her efforts. I didn’t do anything wrong here,” said Roth. “I was the good guy. I inherited a mess, and when I could do something about it, I cleaned it up.” –NY Times, September 7, 1996

A quarter a century ago Mayor La Guardia complained that the Surrogate Court kept Tammany alive during his City Hall regime. Ten years ago the distinguished Tweed Commission recommended their abolition and transfer of their functions to the State Supreme Court. –NY Times, June 29, 1966

“Manhattan – Surrogate’s Court - This sensitive office has been a center of patronage that favors politically connected lawyers and is a burden on the estates of decedents and their families. The Surrogate’s Court urgently requires reform through state legislation.” –NY Times Editorial, September 11, 1976

“The Citizens Union last week endorsed Senator Robert Kennedy’s proposal to abolish special-guardian appointments in surrogate courts and create salaried public guardians.” – NY Times, December 4, 1966

“Mayor Lindsay endorsed yesterday the proposal to merge the Surrogate Court into the State Supreme Court.” – New York Times, May 6, 1967


Ellian Lopez said...

John Reddy is the most qualified candidate to clean up Manhattan Surrogate's Court. He already has a ten point plan for Surrogate Court reform. Read it at
Remember to vote Sept. 9th.

Ellian Lopez said...

September 4th NY Daily News:
"Anderson has borrowed $225,000 from her longtime employer, trust lawyer Seth Rubenstein, who is the grandson of a surrogate and the father of Manhattan lawyer Joshua Rubenstein, who heads the trust and estate section of a major law firm.

That's almost certainly a violation of Article 14, Section 114 of New York State election law, which specifies that a campaign loan "shall be deemed, to the extent not repaid by the date of the primary, general or special election, as the case may be, a contribution."

The $225,000 is far above the legal contribution limit. So Anderson, if she wins, will likely be in violation of the law."

Anderson has no intention of paying back that "Loan" and will only be subject to a small fine for violating the election law. Sad, a candidate for Judge violatig the law on her way to the bench.

John Reddy is a reformer with a 10 point plan on cleaning up Surrogate's Court. He worked hard to raise the money to pay for those mailers, and every contribution he got was legal and didn't violate the elections law.

The lawyer that loaned Nora Anderson the $225,000 will be appearing before her as a judge for guardianships if she is elected. You tell me, do you think he will get his money back tenfold with her as judge?

Vote for reform. Vote for Reddy.