Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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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.

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