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Sunday, August 17, 2008

New York's Secret Court

As seen in NYC's OUR TOWN newspaper - August 14, 2008
The Secret Court - Surrogate's race draws big political guns- but not much interest from voters
by Susan Camprielo (SEE: http://www.susancampriello.com)

Intense race to replace Surrogate
Posted by admin under News, Print Clips - Sunday, August 17, 2008
As seen in City Hall.

Race this year draws big political guns, but still not much interest from voters In New York, sometimes standing out in a crowd can be difficult. On the corner of Broadway and West 96th streets one humid evening, John Reddy, Jr., a candidate for New York County Surrogate’s Court, competed for attention with a pair of people promoting a paint sale and a scattering of MTA employees advising commuters that a station entrance was closed. In his khakis, blue shirt and red striped tie, Reddy might have blended in with the passing New Yorkers. But he was standing still, and two staffers formed a wall of campaign signs behind him. “Hi, Manhattan Democrat?” he chirped, roughly 30 times a minute, while shaking hand with and passing campaign flyers to anyone who stopped.

One man stopped for a brief chat, expressing frustration at what he perceives as corruption on the Surrogate’s Court. Reddy is running on a platform of ideas to change the way the court was run. He tried to make his case to the man, but did not appear to succeed. “There’s nothing you can do about it, John,” he said. “I’ll see what I can do,” Reddy called after him. Reddy is not the only candidate talking change in the race to succeed Judge Renee Roth, who is aging off the court at 70 this year. The Surrogate’s Court settles matters concerning adoptions, guardians, estates and wills of the deceased, but once again this year, the debate about its future is a lively one. And like the Upper West Side corner, the race is crowded, with Judge Milton Tingling and Nora Anderson also vying for the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 9 primary.

Surrogate laws and practices are idiosyncratic. The three candidates agree that the general public is unfamiliar with the court, and that lawyers who practice in court are not always well informed either. The candidates also hope to speed up litigation time. The primary race has already drawn more attention than normal due to the number of big names in local politics it has drawn. John Reddy has hired The Parkside Group as his consultant. Chung Seto, and Kevin Wardally of Bill Lynch Associates are overseeing Tingling’s fundraising and campaigning. Former Mayor David Dinkins (D) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Manhattan) are among Tingling’s most public supporters. Nora Anderson has Michael Oliva managing her campaign and Lisa Hernandez Gioia of The Esler Group doing her fundraising. The morning after Reddy argued with the man about corruption on the court, Tingling, who has been a Manhattan Supreme Court justice for seven years, met voters along 135th Street. Council Member Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan) stood next to Tingling, announcing his presence to the people trickling into the subway station.

“Good morning, good morning! This is Judge Tingling, he’s running for Surrogate’s Court. Please support him, he’s from my community,” she shouted, nearly drowning out buses and trucks on Lenox Avenue. Behind her, staff from a consulting firm handed flyers to commuters. Tingling greeted people more intimately, turning every handshake into an elongated arm grasp. One woman stopped, looking confused. The candidate approached asking slowly, “No habla Ingl├ęs?” When she shook her head, Tingling turned his flyer over, revealing his qualifications written in Spanish. Translators, Tingling said, are just part of the two-pronged approach to making the court more accessible to Manhattan’s diverse population. Translators could not only assist those involved with cases in the court, but can help teach people about wills and estates. Such meetings could take place in the satellite court offices Tingling said he hopes to open as part of this plan.

Most people know little about the Surrogate’s Court beyond being familiar with celebrity cases, like those of Woody Allen, Brooke Astor and J. Seward Johnson, or when they land in the court themselves. Tingling hopes to enhance the court’s presence in the public consciousness so that the first experience the average New Yorker has with the court is not as a litigant. “There are cases going on there, there are people being affected all the time, but nobody knows,” he said. “It’s basically a secret court.” Reddy hopes to open the court by making it more friendly and welcoming to those unfamiliar with Surrogate’s practices. As more lawyers become familiar with the court, the court will become less of a mystery to litigants, he said. Reddy said his 13 years as counsel to the public administrator of New York County has prepared him for the bench. Fewer than three years after being hired, Reddy had closed over 2,000 cases full of vague language or instructions that had been open for at least four years, he said. He is hopeful that he will be able to close Surrogate cases, some of which have been open even longer.

Anderson, who was a clerk in the court under former Surrogate Eve Preminger for nearly five years and has litigated in the court, has a different idea for speeding up the court process. If elected, she would rotate pro se clerks around the court so that they would learn to master all areas of the court and better assist litigants who may be unfamiliar with the court’s proceedings. Rotating existing staff would eliminate the need to hire, and pay, more clerks, she said. Moving clerks around departments would force clerks to become familiar with all aspects of the court, making them generally more familiar with practices than they currently are.

Plus, she said she would use her position as judge to educate people in an effort to keep them from having to come to court in the first place, since all court proceedings can become expensive, time consuming and stressful for litigants. She has cut back her hours with the Brooklyn law firm Seth Rubenstein, P.C. in order to spend time campaigning at green markets, street fairs and on sidewalks, such as the one along Eighth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets where, one recent evening, she hopped, teetered and pirouetted in heels, dodging and followed potential voters. Wearing a tailored black suit over a sleeveless knit zebra-print top, she tried to stop pedestrian traffic. “Hi, I’m running for Surrogate Court, and I need your support,” she said. “Hi, I’m running to be a judge. I’ve got a great website.” She spent a lot of the time telling people how to register as Democrats so they could vote. She spent just as much time giving shouted-out summaries of what the court does and what she would do as judge if they voted for her. “A large part of this campaign,” she said, “has been education.”

(Also, see: www.Manhttanmedia.com)

21 comments:

ny county surrogate court victim said...

the purpose of the Surrogate's Court in to steal other peoples money, plain and simple. The Surrogate Judges are the leaders along with the Trust & Estate Bar. Bar is certainly an appropriate word since from my observation most of them drink heavily maybe to drown their dastardly deeds. In my personal experience the court of widows and orphans has become a nest of thieves and charlatans far worst than anything Charles Dickens reported on.

ny county surrogate court victim said...

the purpose of the Surrogate's Court in to steal other peoples money, plain and simple. The Surrogate Judges are the leaders along with the Trust & Estate Bar. Bar is certainly an appropriate word since from my observation most of them drink heavily maybe to drown their dastardly deeds. In my personal experience the court of widows and orphans has become a nest of thieves and charlatans far worst than anything Charles Dickens reported on.

Anonymous said...

Drugs, alcohol and certainly sex addictions....are a serious problem within the NY COURT SYSTEM'S ,judiciary!
That is one reason why these courts proceed so secretly...no one wants an investigation into this behavior, that creates most, if not all of the corruption problems we are experiencing.
The greed manifests when the senses are numbed!
Check and see how many judges come back from lunch with liquor on their breath? And then check their chamber's for the drug supply...in the lower cabinet with the aspirin and vasoline..so I found! And late in the afternoon check and see what females enter their office and close the door..everyday?
Oh well...the secrets are safe with me!

Anonymous said...

Nothing too secret about the greedy, and dishonest, lawyers and judges.

retired t and e club member said...

when you are a member of this exclusive club all doors are open, it's a small group that controls billions of dollars. Oh God, it was great while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

Drive out the old fattened swine and bring in new swine to the trough.

court worker said...

you fools, it is a "Secret Court" because that how they can steal the money and real property and no one know except them. Figure it out, that's what this process is about. Hell, I just work there and see this stuff.

court worker said...

you fools, it is a "Secret Court" because that how they can steal the money and real property and no one know except them. Figure it out, that's what this process is about. Hell, I just work there and see this stuff.

Anonymous said...

these people are like the three blind mice, who ever gets in will see nothing and do less about anything, especially reform.

vcitim of Westchester co. surrogate's court said...

Whoa! it's no secret to anyone who has been thru the probate process! They keep screwing with you, that's their game. They're real SOB's and the sad part is that they are being paid with our tax dollars. Something is wrong withthe whole picture.

Anonymous said...

Here is a secret, there is a ring of pedohpiles operating in the Ninth Judicial District...These bastards are making money without regard for human life or age..

Anonymous said...

It's no SECRET what these bums do to you in the Surrogates Court. They rip you off. And of course they do it all legally. The thing is how do you fight the criminal acts? Who do you go to? I've tried the DA, various state entities, federal entities, FBI etc., they all say IT'S NOT OUR JOB! So what do you do? Someone please tell me.

Anonymous said...

The Office of Court Administration is heavily and illegally intertwined with all the above agencies. The agencies you mentioned have no intention of tearing apart OCA at the expense of their jobs and livlihood!

OCA has a massive budget to work with and influence other agencies and their own knowledgable employees!

The trick and secret here, is to keep hammering away at them with these blogs, reports to the media even if they don't get reported, and revealing conversations with lots of people you know!

Eventually the right person, with the right case, abundant with inside knowledge, will construct the perfect hole... and then manifest itself and crack open the big nasty brick courthouses!

I guarantee it will happen when the time is right!

Anonymous said...

also need to lobby every elected official including gov paterson, state senators, assembly folks and more. and part of the agenda and part of the necessary solution should be a Legislative change to Judicial Immunity rules since Judges and court officers DO Commit Crimes and THEN Another Judge that handles the lawsuit against them just says, "oh well, judicial immunity" even when it involves acts which are prosecuted as crimes for everyone else. but the problem with this is it needs to be changed on a federal level. the state of new york already has one section in the Family Court Act which creates room to overcome judicial immunity if the judge acts in bad faith but then a federal judge will say that Judicial immunity is a Federal Common law doctrine and the state legislature could not over ride this federal common law. problem is none of the federal or state judges apply judicial immunity correctly anyhow since they just use one big Broad stroke of the pen to dismiss everything before any Discovery to determine the role and function of what the judge was up to. some brave judges have said it is not "acting like a judge" to commit crimes, fix cases, tamper with evidence, so judicial immunity would not apply. these judges are very very very very rare to find. so keep blogging, lobbying, pushing and more.

Anonymous said...

http://www.scjc.state.ny.us/Determinations/F/feinberg.htm

albany lawyer said...

this is a secret that no one wants to deal with. Keep going because I will tell you that some important people including federal have taken note of this blog and others and just maybe they will do the job that they are paid for.

albany lawyer said...

this is a secret that no one wants to deal with. Keep going because I will tell you that some important people including federal have taken note of this blog and others and just maybe they will do the job that they are paid for.

Anonymous said...

as a follow up to the comment on legislative proposals to change judicial immunity rules, i think it is former US Senator Daschle's state that has introduced legislation at the State level. more of these efforts are needed. perhaps the rules on immunity would not need such urgent action if the system set out by the State for the State citizens to seek Redress and petition their government, a constitutional right, such as the CJC and the DDCs operated as a fair, just, level playing field system consistent with due process and equal protection and constitutional rights and liberties. Until then, unless reform comes in a way in which judges and others in the judicial system know there are penalties and ways in which to keep them in check, nothing will change. Yet, a few judges losing their pensions, jobs, and even getting tagged so they have to worry about losing their homes or even face posting bail may be what it takes to change this system.

Anonymous said...

When is St. Andrew coming to the rescue? Or is he in league with the devil?

Anonymous said...

http://www.courts.state.ny.us/history/elecbook/barjournal/pg5.htm

Something has gone wrong...


The Constitutional court reorganization of 1846 signalled an era in which the population wanted to see the judiciary as more representational than aristocratic. Nothing reflects this mood more than the mandate that Supreme Court Judges be chosen by the voters, commencing 1847, for eight year terms.

Until then, the number of Supreme Court Justices had been no more than five. In 1847 there were three. In 1848, following the reorganization, there were thirty-two elected Supreme Court Justices, four of whom served on the newly formed Court of Appeals. Jacksonian democracy had arrived. The Supreme Court was to be "The People's Court" supplanting what the population regarded a "feudal" domain, occupied exclusively by the high born and privileged.[17]

Anonymous said...

hmmmm....

Section 71.1. Report of open estates.

(a) Whenever the estate of a decedent is being administered by a public administrator pursuant to article 12 of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act or by a chief fiscal officer of a county who either is appointed administrator of an estate pursuant to section 1219 of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act or is acting as voluntary administrator pursuant to article 13 of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act, and such estate has not been fully distributed nor a final accounting filed with petition for settlement with the appropriate Surrogate's Court, the estate representative shall annually in the month of January file a report of open estates with the Office of the State Comptroller, covering every open estate in which permanent letters were issued to such representative or in which an affidavit has been filed by such representative pursuant to section 1304 of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act, on or before the preceding December 31st. The report of open estates shall be prepared on a form prescribed by the Office of the State Comptroller and shall require the name of the estate, the date letters were granted or affidavit filed, the amount of the gross estate, the amount undistributed, reasons why the final distribution of the estate has not been made, the anticipated estate closing date and such additional information as the State Comptroller may deem warranted. If there are no such open estates, a report must, nevertheless, be filed by the public administrator of chief fiscal officer indicating that no estates are open. As used in this Part, the term public administrator shall mean the public administrator of any county in which the office of public administrator exists or any deputy public administrator or other individual who is performing the duties of the public administrator as provided for by law.
(b) Where a chief fiscal officer acting as administrator leaves office, resigns, or is removed from office, a report must be filed by the former administrator within 30 days from the date of leaving office, resignation or removal from office. In the event of the death or incapacity of the administrator, the report must be filed by the legal representative(s), if any, of the former administrator within 60 days of the appointment of such representative. A copy of any such report must also be filed with the successor in office to the chief fiscal officer. If there are no open estates, a report must, nevertheless, be filed by the legal representative(s), if any, of the former chief fiscal officer indicating that no estates are open.
(c) Failure to timely file any report provided for herein will be considered by the Comptroller as grounds for petitioning the surrogate of the county having jurisdiction, praying for a judicial settlement of the accounts of any such public administrator or chief fiscal officer of a county, pursuant to the provisions of section 8(11) of the State Finance Law.
(d) The periods set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section are not intended to set a standard time for completion of estate administration, but rather to fix the times within which the Comptroller is to be informed of the status of open estates and to fix a period after which the Comptroller may inquire.
(e) This section shall not limit the power of the appropriate Surrogate's Court to direct an accounting at any time on its own initiative or on petition pursuant to section 2205 of the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act.
(f) No open estate shall be excluded from the applicability of the provisions of this section by virtue of the fact that permanent letters of administration were issued to the public administrator or chief fiscal officer acting as administrator prior to the effective date of this regulation.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2