Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

Keep up to date with the latest Newspaper and Internet articles on this year's Brooklyn Surrogate Court race

Friday, September 24, 2004

Brooklyn Judge's Fate in Balance

NY POST - September 24, 2004

By DAREH GREGORIAN

The verdict is in on whether an embattled Brooklyn Surrogate Court judge can keep his job — but it won't be revealed until November.

That's when the state Commission on Judicial Conduct will forward the results of yesterday's vote on Judge Michael Feinberg to the Court of Appeals.

The action comes a mere seven years after The Post first reported that Feinberg was rewarding his political pals with lucrative court appointments.

One of those pals was lawyer Louis Rosenthal, whom Feinberg appointed in 1997 as counsel to the public administrator, which represents estates of people who die without leaving wills.

In that post, Rosenthal was legally entitled to collect up to 6 percent of the value of a person's estate — but a report presented to the commission charged that Feinberg routinely awarded Rosenthal much more than the statutory amount, even though he'd failed to fill out the proper paperwork, a source said.

That meant a bonanza for Rosenthal, who collected more than $8 million between 1997 and 2002.

After several months of hearings, a referee found Feinberg had committed misconduct by signing off on the fees, and recommended he be removed from the bench. Their votes will be taken down as official reports between now and November, and then forwarded to the Court of Appeals.

If they decide Feinberg, 61, should be disciplined, the Court of Appeals has three options available — reprimand him privately, censure him publicly or remove him from office.

Prober wants B'klyn judge out

New York Daily News - September 24th, 2004

BY NANCIE L. KATZ

The attorney for the state's judicial watchdog agency called for the ouster of a top Brooklyn judge accused of lining the pockets of a law school pal, the Daily News has learned.

Alan Friedberg, head lawyer for the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, recommended that the 11-member panel boot Brooklyn Surrogate Judge Michael Feinberg, a source outside the commission said. Friedberg's call came as the commission reviewed a scathing report accusing Feinberg of routinely violating judicial codes by approving excessive fees to a crony.

"He [Friedberg] asked for him to be fired," said the source.

Feinberg, who left the closed-door meeting at the commission's lower Manhattan office smiling, declined to comment. Commission Administrator Robert Tembeckjian refused to discuss the hearing.

A Daily News probe in 2002 found that Feinberg regularly approved excessive fees for longtime pal Louis Rosenthal, whom he appointed in 1997 to help handle the estates of Brooklynites who died without leaving wills.

Between 1997 and 2002, Feinberg signed off on more than $8 million in fees to Rosenthal, even though the attorney never filed the required affidavits saying what he did to earn them. Yesterday, Feinberg told the panel he did nothing wrong, the source said.

"He explained...that he did it because others before him did it," said the source.

The commission is expected to issue its recommendation to the Court of Appeals by the end of the year.