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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

NY Surrogate Calls for Shifting of Power

Estate of Alayon

Trusts and Estates
New York Law Journal - May 04, 2010
Surrogate Margarita López Torres
Decided: April 30; 2000-80

In 2003, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct filed a disciplinary complaint against Michael Feinberg, the then-Surrogate for Kings County, concerning his conduct in awarding some $8,613,009.35 in legal fees to Louis R. Rosenthal (Rosenthal), the then-counsel to the Public Administrator for Kings County, which resulted in a determination that Surrogate Feinberg be removed from office, a decision subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeals. In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d 206 (2005). Subsequent disciplinary proceedings arising from their conduct in this regard resulted in the disbarment of the former surrogate and the suspension of the former counsel from the practice of law. Matter of Feinberg, 57 A.D.3d 1087 (3d Dep't 2008); In re Rosenthal, 57 A.D.3C1 1085 (3d Dep't 2008). The Attorney General of the State of New York (Attorney General) now moves, pursuant to CPLR 5015, to vacate those portions of the final decrees issued in the above-captioned eighty-eight proceedings which set and determined the legal fees for Rosenthal while he was counsel to the Public Administrator.1 The motions have been consolidated for decision and order. The decrees in these proceedings were issued at various times between January 1, 1997 and May 31, 2002. The Attorney General asserts that in each of these cases the legal fees paid to Rosenthal equaled approximately eight percent of the value of the estate, regardless of the legal services actually performed by Rosenthal. The Attorney General asserts that in setting the legal fees to be paid to Rosenthal, then-Surrogate Feinberg failed to abide by the requirements of SCPA 1108(2)(c). That section states:

Any legal fees allowed by the court pursuant to (SCPA 1108 (2)(b)] shall be supported by an affidavit of legal services setting forth in detail the services rendered, the time spent, and the method or basis by which requested compensation was determined. In fixing the legal fees, the court shall consider the time and labor required, the difficulty of the questions involved, the skill required to handle the problems presented, the lawyer's experience, ability and reputation, the amount involved and benefit resulting to the estate from the services, the customary fee charged by the bar for similar services, the contingency or certainty of compensation, the results obtained, and the responsibility involved. (emphasis added).

The Attorney General asserts that during the five-and-one-half-years dining which these decrees were issued, Rosenthal never submitted—and then-Surrogate Feinberg never required—affidavits of legal services to support any of the legal fees Rosenthal charged to the subject estates. Based on these alleged facts, the Attorney General seeks i) the issuance of amended decrees in each of these matters consistent with the criteria set forth in SCPA 1108 (2)(c), and ii) the return to such estates of all amounts that Rosenthal received in excess of the value of the legal services he rendered. The submission and consideration of an affidavit of legal services when setting legal fees of the counsel to the Public Administrator is mandatory. SCPA 1108 (2)(b). "The statutory requirements of an affidavit and specification of factors the surrogate must consider when fixing the fee offer assurance that the amount paid out of an estate—and therefore not available as a distribution to beneficiaries—reflects the true and reasonable cost of the services rendered." In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d at 210. During the period in which the subject decrees were issued, then-Surrogate Feinberg "never required Rosenthal to submit an affidavit of legal services before approving a fee request, nor did he determine fees based on consideration of the statutory factors specified in SCPA 1108 (2)(c)." Id. at 212. Instead, at the conclusion of the accounting in each estate Rosenthal was awarded a fee which was "generally eight percent of the total value of the estate."2 Id. Clearly, then-Surrogate Feinberg did not apply SCPA 1108 (2)(c) in initially setting Rosenthal's fees in these estates during the relevant time period. Rosenthal subsequently submitted purported affidavits of legal services for his work on the subject estates, but only after the decrees had already been issued. "In the spring of 2002, when [then-Surrogate Feinberg] learned of an impending newspaper expose of his office, he directed Rosenthal to submit affidavits of legal services, mine pro tunc, all of which [he] approved without [adjusting any of the previously fixed fees]." Matter of Feinberg, 57 A.D.3d at 1088. Thus, while the Court's files on the subject estates now contain papers designated as affidavits of legal services, these filings were nothing more than an attempt to comply retroactively with the form of the statute. Yet the intent and purpose of the statute—to allow only those fees which are reasonable, based on an individualized consideration of the actual work performed, to fees being awarded—remains unrealized. The Attorney General concedes that while it appeared in each of the proceedings at issue, it never filed objections with regard to Rosenthal's fees. This is indeed troubling, since it appears that, as early as 1988, the Attorney General was aware that the Public Administrator's counsel may have been receiving more legal fees than were appropriate. "[T]he Attorney General twice in the past attempted to rein in counsel fees approved by the Kings County Surrogate, reaching agreements in 1988 and 1994 with then-counsel to limit fee awards to six percent of an estate's value, with additional payment only in special cases." In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d at 210.

Clearly, the Attorney General was well aware of troubling issues relating to compensation paid to the Public Administrator's counsel for the administration of estates prior to the period during which the relevant decrees were issued. Indeed, in at least four cases, the Attorney General filed objections regarding legal fees and arrived at compensation agreements with Rosenthal's predecessor. However, when Rosenthal became counsel to the Public Administrator only two years after the last such agreement, the Attorney General continued to appear in the proceedings at issue but failed to object to the approximately eight percent legal fees being paid to Rosenthal from the subject estates. Notably, Rosenthal asserts—and the Attorney General does not deny—that even after he filed the nunc pro tunc affidavits, the Attorney General, upon whom such affidavits were served, met with the then-Surrogate and Rosenthal yet filed no objection to the fees which bad been paid in the subject estates. Now, the Attorney General seeks to vacate those portions of the subject decrees that set Rosenthal's legal fees some thirteen years after the earliest, and eight years after the most recent, of these decrees were issued, and four years after then-Surrogate Feinberg was removed from the bench. The motion is predicated on, inter alia, CPLR 5015(a)(3) and the court's inherent authority to modify or vacate its own decrees. As such, it may be entertained despite the Attorney General's failure to file objections when the subject decrees were issued.

CPLR 5015 (a)(3) allows a court to vacate a decree if the record reflects "fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party." Additionally, it is well established that a court "has the inherent authority to vacate its own order 'for sufficient reason, in the furtherance of justice.'" Bellevue-Santiago v. City Ready Mix, inc., 270 A.112d 441, 441 (2d Dep't 2000) (quoting Ladd v. Stevenson, 112 N.Y. 325, 332 (1889)). While the Attorney General may have tacitly consented to the submission of the nunc pro tunc affidavits, this Court retains the authority to review the propriety of such submissions. The presumption that the nunc pro tunc affidavits were in fact considered by then-Surrogate Feinberg when approving all of Rosenthal's fees unchanged, is untenable, particularly given the circumstances in which such affidavits were flied. Such actions will not be condoned. Indeed, despite the filing of the affidavits after the fees had been fixed, the Appellate Division found that Rosenthal "charged excessive fees over a five-year period, collected the fees in violation of a clear statutory mandate designed to protect the funds of estates he was representing, and the total fees collected were substantial." In re Rosenthal, 57 A.D.3d at 1086. The facts as set forth in the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division of the Third Department militate against according the nunc pro tunc affidavits any legitimacy. The record establishes—and the Court of Appeals has already ruled—that Rosenthal's fees were initially fixed by then-Surrogate Feinberg without the consideration of any affidavits of legal services. Rosenthal asserts that this defect was cured by the subsequent filing of affidavits of legal services mine pro tunc, which affidavits were accepted by then-Surrogate Feinberg. Although after the submission of these affidavits, "not a single fee was adjusted by the Surrogate," In re Rosenthal, 57 A.D.3d at 1086, Rosenthal nonetheless proffers the "presumption of regularity"3 and asserts that "there can be no implication that Judge Feinberg did not review [the nunc pro tunc affidavits] or review them properly." Aff. in Opposition at ¶42. However, the decisions in In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d 206 (accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct that then-Surrogate Feinberg should be removed from office) and Matter of Feinberg, 57 A.D.3d 1087 (disbarring then-Surrogate Feinberg for his conduct), delineate and are founded upon the very irregularities and omissions of the surrogate in setting the subject fees during the relevant time period. Indeed, the Court of Appeals found that the record in the underlying proceeding "reflect[ed] not mere lapses or errors in judgment but a wholesale failure of [then-Surrogate Feinberg's] duty." In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d at 216.

Furthermore, a review of the nunc pro tune affidavits reveals that none contain any particularized description of the legal services performed in each estate. Instead, the language in each affidavit is essentially identical—a boilerplate description of the duties of the public administrator's counsel—and thus could not have aided the required individualized consideration of the propriety of the fees to be awarded in each case, even if, hypothetically, the affidavits had been submitted properly before the initial fee decrees. Any assertion that SCPA 1108 was ever applied is further undermined by Rosenthal's claim that no affidavits were submitted initially and the fees were set at the eight percent figure because that had been the historical pattern and practice in Kings County. A court may vacate a decree upon the application of any person, if in its discretion, such relief is necessary to further justice. McMahon v. City of New York, 105 A.D.2d 101 (1st Dep't 1984); Jericho Union Free School District v. Bd of Assessors of the County of Nassau, 131 A.D.2d 482 (2d Dep't 1987). That an estate not be diminished to the detriment of distributees is foremost among the concerns of this Court and there is "no assurance that the [subject] estates benefitted in proportion to the amounts they were charged [in violation of] the clear legal requirement and legislative intent of SCPA 1108 (2)(c)." In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d at 214. The Court is not foreclosed, as Rosenthal argues, from vacating decrees in which next-of-kin were located. While the Attorney General may have appeared in such proceedings pursuant to SCPA 316 because at some time during administration of such estates no distributees had been identified, the Attorney General's standing is not limited by SCPA 316. Both the language of CPLR 5015 and related precedent regarding the vacatur of judgments allows "any person" to move a court to modify or vacate a judgment in the interests ofjustice.4 Such concerns are particularly apt here, since "[t]he purpose of the statutory affidavit and individualized consideration requirements is to ensure that beneficiaries of estates that by definition, lack interested parties capable of offering independent review are paying only for the actual cost of administering the estates." In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d at 214. Thus, "[t]o seek relief from a judgment or order, all that is necessary is that some legitimate interest of the moving party will be served and that judicial assistance will avoid injustice." Oppenheimer v. Westcott, 47 N.Y.2d 595, 602 (1979). It is well established that CPLR 5015 "was intended to assure that a broad class of persons, not limited to parties in the formal sense, could move in the original action on grounds vastly broader than permitted at common law or under prior practice…" Id Here, if legal fees are not fixed based on the actual work performed, there is no question that an injustice results, as the subject estates have been diminished without regard to the benefits conferred upon them by Rosenthal's legal services. Additionally, the Court may assert its authority over a decree if it is demonstrated that irregularities existed in its issuance. That standard is satisfied under the facts presented.

Based on the foregoing, the Attorney General's motion is granted to the following extent. The portions of each decree in the above-captioned estates which fixed the Legal fees for Louis It Rosenthal are vacated. Louis It Rosenthal shall file affidavits detailing the legal services he provided in each of the respective subject estates within 90 days of the service upon his counsel of a copy of this decision and order with Notice of Entry. Pursuant to SCPA 1108(2)(c), the affidavits shall set "forth in detail the services rendered, the time spent, and the method or basis by which [the] requested compensation was determined." Upon due consideration of such affidavits, the Court shall issue decisions and orders as necessary in each of the subject estates, and shall direct the settlement of any amended decrees. The foregoing constitutes the decision and order of the Court.

It should be evident from the foregoing that, unfortunately, the final resolution of the fee issues arising from these eighty-eight cases will remain pending for some time to come. Indeed, the problems generated by the conduct of Rosenthal and then-Surrogate Feinberg have already consumed an enormous amount of time and resources of this Court, as well as that of the appellate courts, the Attorney General's office, and other agencies. Moreover, and more significantly, these events "eroded public confidence in the integrity of the Judiciary." In re Feinberg, 57 A.D.3d at 1088. This Court would be remiss if it failed to note that the issues concerning not just the fees paid to private counsel to the public administrator, but also concerning the fundamental lack of oversight of such process, arising from the inherent structural problems which contributed to this debacle, have been present and known for quite some time.

As a threshold matter, it should be stressed that the public administrators of the five counties of the City of New York (City) are commissioners of the City; they are employees of the courts. Pursuant to SCPA 1105 (3), their salaries are paid by the City, and such expenses must be included in the City's annual budget. The public administrators' staff are also City employees whose salaries are paid by the City. All commissions received by each commissioner must be deposited in the City's treasury each month and the City Comptroller may demand that each commissioner produce all bank statements, vouchers, and any other documents of the public administrators' offices at any time. SCPA 1107. Additionally, until 1993, each commissioner was required to file monthly reports only with the City's mayor and comptroller. In 1993, SCPA 1109 was amended to also require the filing of such reports with the surrogate of the county in which a public administrator was located. 1993 N.Y. Laws 655, Pursuant to SCPA 1110, the City is answerable for each commissioner's faithful execution of his office, the City has complete authority to make any lawful deductions from the public administrator's commissions, and it is the City that is financially liable for the any misconduct or negligence by its commissioners.

Despite the foregoing, the City's public administrator in each county is appointed by the surrogate or surrogates of that county pursuant to SCPA 1102, and only the surrogate or surrogates may remove the City's public administrator. The City, therefore, although liable for all of her or his acts, may not appoint or remove any public administrator. Additionally, while other City agencies are represented In court proceedings by the City's own Corporation Counsel, in Surrogate's Court the City's public administrators are represented by private counsel appointed by the Court pursuant to SCPA 1108 (2)(a). And while attorneys for Corporation Counsel are salaried employees of the City, each Commissioner's counsel in Surrogate's proceedings are paid by the estates of decedents in such amounts as are determined appropriate by the surrogates.

Thus, there exists the anomaly of a surrogate, a member of the State's judiciary branch, appointing a public administrator, a member of the City's executive branch, rather than the Mayor, who appoints all other City commissioners. This statutory scheme has resulted in a an untenable system of diffused accountability that has, time and again, been proven to ill-serve the public interest. While the public administrator is an agency of the City, the City has never committed to any ongoing routine oversight over its own commissioners.5 Indeed, not many years ago, in a Title VII action alleging sexual harassment by a deputy public administrator, the City moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that an employee of its own deputy commissioner should not be considered a City employee, as the deputy public administrator is appointed by the surrogate. Gryga v. Ganzman, 991 F. Supp 105 (E.D.N.Y. 1998). That court, finding that the City was indeed the employer of the public administrator's staff as a matter of law, denied the motion. Id. at 111.

The result is a municipal agency whose relationship to the City is akin to that of a neglected step-child. The surrogates themselves, as judicial officers, should not and cannot become closely involved in the oversight of a litigant who frequently appears before them. For a judge to review the records and day-to-day affairs of the public administrator would necessarily require gaining extrajudicial personal knowledge of the facts of a case. To do so becomes ethically problematic where the judge is called upon to rule in cases of which she or he has prior personal knowledge of the estate's affairs and may have even directed the conduct of the fiduciary. See 22 NYCRR §100.3(e)(1)(a)(ii) (requiring a judge to disqualify herself if she has personal knowledge of disputed facts concerning the proceeding). When one considers that the public administrators' counsel are also appointed by the surrogate or surrogates, the matter becomes even more problematic.6 If the very judge who decides what legal fees shall be paid to the public administrator's counsel is also involved, directly or indirectly, in determining the actions of the litigant, then the impartial judicial role is further compromised.

That the present statutory scheme creates a structurally unworkable system that is open to abuse is certainly not mere conjecture. Leaving aside the events that resulted in the necessity of the instant motions, for almost a century the flaws of a system by which the surrogate appoints the public administrator and the public administrator's counsel has resulted—in all five counties of the City—in repeated incidents that have attained notoriety in the news media and surely have not enhanced the public's perceptions of either office. This Court's analysis of the structural problems of the current arrangement is hardly novel, however. As long ago as 1987, the Attorney General and the State Comptroller issued a report which summarized the problem with the current system:

…we believe that a Surrogate's direct involvement in the management of a [public administrator] office is extremely problematic. Any objections by interested parties challenging the methods and conduct of the [public administrator] in administering a particular estate are made before the local Surrogate, and it is the Surrogate who must ultimately pass upon these objections in the course of reviewing the [public administrator's] final accounting. Where the Surrogate has closely supervised the [public administrator] and has played a direct role in the formulation of office policy, his impartiality in assessing objections to the [public administrator's] procedures or conduct is inevitably open to question…The hint of a conflict of interest or the suggestion of a possible bias undermines public confidence in the fundamental fairness of the judicial process. At the very least, the present [public administrator] appointment scheme places the Surrogate in the dubious position of "hiring" a public official who is a frequent party before him and whose conduct—as the Surrogate's appointee and subordinate—may be the subject of legal proceedings that the Surrogate must determine.

New York City Public Administrators: An Operational Review, at 54 (November 1987) (on file with the New York State Library). That report urged the following remedial recommendations:

[T]he power to appoint the PM should be transferred from the local Surrogates to New York City government Because the PA frequently appears before the Surrogate of his county as a party to legal proceedings and because the Surrogate ultimately must pass upon challenges to the [public administrator's] fiduciary conduct and policies in any estate matter, it seems to us inappropriate for the Surrogate to appoint and supervise the [public administrator]. In addition to eliminating any appearance of a conflict in the Surrogate's roles under the present appointment scheme, the proposed transfer of appointing authority would squarely place the ultimate responsibility for a properly nm New York City system in the executive branch of the local government that controls the [public administrator] office budgets, ending the present bifurcation of appointing authority and funding responsibility. Furthermore, we believe that centralizing appointing authority and oversight in municipal government will enhance the likelihood that the [public administrators] adopt efficient and uniform procedures for the discharge of their responsibilities. Finally, we note that this transfer of appointing authority to the City will allow the City's Department of Investigations to investigate any allegations of misconduct. Id at ES-9.

Despite the issuance of this report nearly a quarter-century ago, and the significant disruption to the administration of justice as a result of the matters detailed in In re Feinberg and In re Rosenthal, there appears to have been no action at the municipal or state level to pursue the report's recommendation of vesting responsibility in the City for the actual oversight of its own offices.7 Yet there appears to be no compelling reason why City commissioners in this single instance need be appointed by someone other than the municipal government or why, in this single instance, private counsel are appointed to represent a City commissioner in court proceedings. Indeed, the Attorney General and Comptroller also recommended that the public administrators "be required to employ salaried staff counsel and staff accountants to provide these professional services more economically." Id at ES-9.

In sum, the unfortunate circumstances that have resulted in the necessity for the instant motions should be a clarion call for the City and the Legislature to give appropriate consideration now to reforming the current troubled system. It is this Court's view that the City needs to take responsibility for the oversight and operation of its own agency, in the same fashion as its other agencies. Additionally, a legislative change requiring the mayor to appoint the public administrator and designate either in-house counsel or the Corporation Counsel to perform that agency's legal work would not only enhance the independence and impartiality of the Surrogate's Courts in cases involving the public administrator, such a change would provide this vital City agency with appropriate supervision.

1. The Attorney General moved for the same relief in a number of other estates before Surrogate Diana A. Johnson. That court granted the motions to the extent discussed in the decision and order therein. See Matter of Adelson, 25 Misc.3d 1215(A) (Sur. Ct. Kings County 2009).

2. [I]n 1993, the Legislature created an administrative board empowered to 'establish guidelines and uniform fee schedules for the operation of the offices of public administrator.' (SCPA 1128(2)). While the board has no oversight responsibility with regard to the appointment of counsel or payment of fees for legal services, in October 2002 [the board issued guidelines for] a uniform fee schedule for the counsels to the New York City public administrators—setting a sliding scale of maximum legal fees based on six percent of the estate's value for the first $150,000, with decreasing percentages charged for estates in inverse proportion to the estate's size beyond the initial $750,000. In re Feinberg, 5 N.Y.3d at 211.

3. In the absence of any specific proof, the law presumes that the statutory requirements were satisfied. Under this "presumption of regularity" the law further presumes that no official or person acting under an oath of office will do anything contrary to his official duty, or omit anything which his official duty requires to be done. People v. Dominique, 90 N.Y.2d 880, 881 (1997).

4. The enormous time and effort entailed in the Attorney General's review of untold numbers of Public Administrator accountings over the five-and-one-half years at issue must be recognized.

5. While the City Comptroller does perform audits of the public administrator of each county every four years, there remains a systemic failure to supervise on the City's part.

6. This is entirely unlike the process utilized for the appointment of counsel for indigent or incompetent persons, where judges in each such case choose randomly from a panel of attorneys prequalified by the Appellate Division.

7. To its credit, the Office of Court Administration has sought to ameliorate the situation by requiring further reports from the Public Administrators and even, as a stop-gap measure, directly supervising the operations of the Kings County office during a vacancy in the position of Public Administrator in 2008. However, this cannot substitute for direct and regular supervision of this agency by the City itself.

Accounting Proceeding of the Public Administrator as Administrator of the Estates of:

JOSE ALAYON, Deceased, 2000-80
ISMAEL ALVARADO, Deceased, 1999-2508
LAWRENCE BAUERLIN, Deceased, 1998-401
DOROTHY BEHNKE, Deceased, 2000-1557
MARIA BERENSON, Deceased, 1997-4895
LEELAND BRAITHWAITE, Deceased, 1997-2391
AUNICA S. BYNUM, Deceased, 1997-3216
IDA CATO, Deceased, 1991-345
CARL COCORA, JR., Deceased, 1997-4361
SARAH CHURCH, Deceased, 1997-580
IDA COHEN, Deceased, 1999-4642
HENRY A. CONNOLLY, Deceased, 1998-2225
MARGARET CONNOR, Deceased, 1994-5703
JAMES COSTAL, Deceased, 1998-2019
VICTOR CRAWFORD, Deceased, 1997-5068
RITA CROWLEY, Deceased, 1997-1830
EDLYN DANIEL, Deceased, 1997, 1104
AGATHA DANISH, Deceased, 1997-3993
JOHN DATE, Deceased, 1999-3806
MAHMUT DEMIRHAN, Deceased, 1999-4558
ELEANOR EISNER, Deceased, 1997-786
HARRY EPSTEIN, Deceased, 1997-4547
JUAN D. ESCOTO, Deceased, 1996-3545
ANTHONY FAVATA, Deceased, 1997-1068
ESTELLE FITCH, Deceased, 10000809
MARGARET FRELEIGH, Deceased, 1996-5258
JEROME A. FRIEDMAN, Deceased, 1998-2244
BETHA L. GARRISON, Deceased, 1997-2656
ALICE GIDALY, Deceased, 1993-3046
IRENCE GNYP, Deceased, 1999-3524
ADOPLPHUS GREEN, Deceased, 1999-2475
MAGGIE GREENE, Deceased, 1998-2205
TINA HALPNER, Deceased, 1999-381
HENRY HAYS, Deceased, 1997-3942
GIOVANNA S. HINDY, Deceased, 1999-880
MAE HOPKINS, Deceased, 1998-3378
FOREST HUNTER, Deceased, 2000-3707
KETURAH JIMENEZ, Deceased, 1997-4724
DORIS JOHNSON, Deceased, 1999-1083
EMOGENE JOHNSON, Deceased, 1999-4494
MAY JOSEPH, Deceased, 1999-2215
ERIC KAPLAN, Deceased, 2000-2365
MARGARET KELLY, Deceased, 1997-2537
LILLIAN KOLBA, Deceased, 1998-2598
ALEKSANDER KULA, Deceased, 1998-4966
JOHN LEAL, Deceased, 1997-1023
KAREN LEE, Deceased, 1997-4716
ARTHUR LEWIS, Deceased, 1999-3252
MAYE LIPPMAN, Deceased, 1993-3961
ALBERT LIPTAK, Deceased, 1998-2122
EVA LUKSENBERG, Deceased, 1999-337
DORA MARCUS, Deceased, 1997-392
EVELYN MONKS, Deceased, 2000-2481
SAMITTAR NAGRA, Deceased, 1997-3096
JOAN NASTASA, Deceased, 1996-3542
SADESH NAZEMI, Deceased, 1995-5116
JOSEPH NESSMAN, Deceased, 1992-4385
JOSEPH NEWMAN, Deceased, 1997-3955
CHARLES NICHOLAS, Deceased, 1998-2121
HAROLD OLSEN, Deceased, 2000-3303
PAUL PEDERSEN, Deceased, 1998-4816
FRANK PRETOKA, Deceased, 1997-3270
HAROLD REIBSTEIN, Deceased, 1997-3995
MARINDA B. REID, Deceased, 1998-4793
FLORENTINO M. RIVERA, Deceased, 1997-2288
DOUGLAS VERNON ROBB, Deceased, 1995-5761
ISAEL RODRIGUEZ, Deceased, 1998-4869
ROSA RODRIGUEZ, Deceased, 1996-279
DOROTHY NICHOLS ROKKA, Deceased, 1000-1736
MARION RYAN, Deceased, 1996-2779
LOUISE SARJEANT, Deceased, 1997-1282
SAMUEL SCOTT, Deceased, 2000-2065
LAWRENCE SELBY, Deceased, 2000-1901
MARY SIEGEL, Deceased, 1997-3141
NATHAN SIROTA, Deceased, 1999-4396
IRVING SMITH, Deceased, 1996-5226
MILTON STERN, Deceased, 1997-4984
LUIS SUAREZ, Deceased, 1997-842
RUPERT TAYLOR, Deceased, 1997-3269
AARON THAW, Deceased, 1997-4985
MALKA TRZAN, Deceased, 1998-4435
JOSEPH TUCCIO, JR., Deceased, 1999-338
LEW WALLACE, Deceased, 1999-2743
JACOB WHITE, Deceased, 1996-666
LENNOX WILLIAMS, Deceased, 1993-2045
EARL WRIGHT, Deceased, 2000-4513
ARLENE ZIMMER, Deceased, 1996-1791
LORETTA ZIMMERMAN, Deceased, 1998-656

Decision of the Day -Trusts and Estates
Estate of Alayon - 2000-80

Surrogate's Court, Kings County
Surrogate Margarita López Torres
Decide: April 30
Page 45, column 1


T Finnan said...

Run for cover. A scandal, involving the Public Administrator who is appointed and supervised by the Surrogate Judge, may arise. The good judge wants to shift the blame to the legislature and City for the court's failure of supervision and the appointing of crooks. The good Attorney General and the good OCA did all they could, but the fault lies elsewhere. Why has not the attorney general filed suit for fraud? He's waiting for the legislature to change the Law.
After you thank God for our system of justice and vote for Cuomo, contact Honest Bridge Inc to obtain your special deal on a 99 year lease on a NY bridge.

Anonymous said...

Most Public Administrators are thugs, just doing the the system's dirty work...

Anonymous said...

That judge Torres is the same one that sued because she would not play ball with the deal making to get on the a party nod to run for judges. She is not like the other hacks. She supposidly is fair and overall does a good job.
The big wigs must not like her.
the lawsuit she filled really is sad. She lost because the courts said it is OKAY to basically pay people off to get on the ballot because it has been going on for years. Really wants to make you move far away.
I think N.Y.ers should know what and how much judges and pols have to sell what is left of thier integrity to get a get a job or run for office.

Anonymous said...

hope they go over all of his casses that he had.

Manhattan Surrogate Victim said...

The Surrogate Judges are WHORES who pay off their buddies by these means. They coverup and lie. We need federal intervention, no one in New York is going to do anything. Everyone is on the take. LOL to Queen EVE!

Anonymous said...

they should all be in prison, the perfect crime, the person you love is dead and the law put you through hell........
shoot to kill! good vs evil.....

the IRS should audit these guys and see if they even claimed the money they STOLE!

Anonymous said...

all Surrogate Courts' are snake pits full of cobras that want to kill

Anonymous said...

Yes you are right on to the prior post. It's there game , their court and their rules, you looooose sucker and the lawyers and Judges win big time!

Anonymous said...

Having been thru Surrogate Ct. once for my mother I have seen how the manipulation is managed and orchestrated by the Judge. Everyone was a puppet that had their strings pulled by the puppetmaster Judge. Part of this process was to make work for the attorneys who of course were greatful to the Judge. It is a big scam, a total fraud.

Anonymous said...

Lopez Torres is blatantly inept and using this decision to abdicate her resposnsibility. People should ask how much money is missing from when Gerard Cabrera ran the PA's office (Lopez Torres appointed Cabrera). People should ask why the orthodox jews were not being buried FOR WEEKS until Judge Pfau threatened Lopez Torres.

Lopez Torres has been a disaster in every court she has worked. The other judges in criminal court couldn't wait to get her out of criminal court. They joked that a vote for Lopez Torres for Surrogate was a vote for criminal court.

She needs to resign before she hurts more innocent people with her arrogance and irrational behavior!

Anonymous said...

Lopez Torres is blatantly inept and using this decision to abdicate her resposnsibility. People should ask how much money is missing from when Gerard Cabrera ran the PA's office (Lopez Torres appointed Cabrera). People should ask why the orthodox jews were not being buried FOR WEEKS until Judge Pfau threatened Lopez Torres.

Lopez Torres has been a disaster in every court she has worked. The other judges in criminal court couldn't wait to get her out of criminal court. They joked that a vote for Lopez Torres for Surrogate was a vote for criminal court.

She needs to resign before she hurts more innocent people with her arrogance and irrational behavior!

Anonymous said...

Someone should file a massive class action lawsuit against the New York Surrogate Courts based on corruption

Anonymous said...

Big Secret, The Banks and "White Shoe" Law Firms control the Manhattan Surrogates' Court. It's all about money and the control of money fools. The dirtbags should all be lined up against the wall and taken care of if you know what I mean. Screw them ALL, the way they screw everyone.

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