Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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Friday, September 24, 2004

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.

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