Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Friends of the Court

New York Times - Editorial


February 27, 2005

The problem of courthouse patronage is practically hard-wired into New York State's system of electing judges. Party leaders have disproportionate influence over who gets to be a judge. Judges, in turn, dispense lucrative legal assignments - even, in egregious cases, favorable verdicts - to party leaders and to the well-connected lawyers who helped elect them.

New York's chief judge, Judith Kaye, has struggled heroically to control favoritism through administrative reforms. These reforms have been useful, and there is room for more. But the main responsibility for breaking the clubhouse-courthouse nexus, and giving New Yorkers the impartial judicial system they deserve, belongs to the State Legislature in Albany, which should replace the existing patronage-based system of electing judges with a system of appointing them by merit. That, in turn, will require a constitutional amendment.

Two continuing investigations into judicial and political corruption in Brooklyn demonstrate how important it is for Albany to move forward. In one case, a State Supreme Court justice, Gerald Garson, has been suspended from the bench and is awaiting trial on bribery charges. A key witness in that case admitted last week to passing thousands of dollars to a politically connected lawyer to arrange preferential treatment in cases before Justice Garson. The investigation into the judge's rulings is also seeking to establish links between him and the Brooklyn Democratic machine.

The other case involves allegations by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct that a Surrogate's Court in Brooklyn may have fleeced widows and other heirs out of millions of dollars. On Feb. 14, the commission found that Michael Feinberg, a Kings County surrogate judge, had named a friend and law school classmate, Louis Rosenthal, to handle the legal matters of people who died without wills and then rubber-stamped Mr. Rosenthal's legal fees of $9 million. The commission described $2 million of these charges as "excessive."

Judge Feinberg, who has also been suspended, had been supported in his campaign for the surrogate judgeship by the local political boss, Clarence Norman Jr., as well as by Mr. Rosenthal. Shortly after becoming a surrogate, Judge Feinberg gave Mr. Rosenthal the responsibility to wind down the estates of people who die without wills. This is a lucrative business - in Kings County alone last year, there were some 1,200 such estates, with a total worth of more than $57 million.

Earlier this month a special commission appointed by Judge Kaye recommended a series of reforms dealing in particular with the lawyers who, like Mr. Rosenthal, handle these estates. The reforms would apply the same rules that now prevent the court from awarding fiduciary appointments - like guardianships - to relatives, friends and others with questionable ties and would require a cap on fees. Judge Kaye is also seeking broader, systemic reforms that among other things would blend Surrogates' Courts into the rest of the system. But nothing would better serve the judicial system than minimizing the clubby relationship among judges, politicians and lawyers by basing judicial selections on merit alone.

In recent months, of course, Albany has been preoccupied - and properly so - with reforming its own institutions. But as legislators fix their own house, they should not ignore the needs of this other ailing branch of government.


Blogger patentgate said...

Patentgate ~ I wonder if this recent concern of Proskauer in electronic evidence is a result of their attempt to suppress evidence against their firm in the matter of stolen patents from Iviewit technologies. The theft of the intellectual properties has led to court room requests for Proskauer to procure documents they have stored electronically and their refusal to submit such documents, case Palm Beach County, Proskauer Rose LLP v. Iviewit Holdings, Iviewit Technologies and, Inc. It has also been uncovered that these corporations in this case were actually illegal set up by Proskauer to mirror their client, Iviewit's companies, in efforts to steal intellectual properties through an intricate artifice to defraud inventors and investors of their technologies. Further, Proskauer has converted these technologies by setting up an anticompetitive monopolistic patent pooling scheme commonly known as MPEG or MPEGLA, whereby Kenneth Rubenstein acted as counsel to Iviewit and then stole the technologies he was supposed to patent for Iviewit, to proliferate in his patent pool that he controls with Proskauer and others.

The inventions were invented by Eliot Bernstein, Jude Rosario, Zackirul Shirajee and others and where Proskauer representing these inventors went about a series of frauds to steal them and monetize them through MPEG. The crimes are currently under investigation at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the attorneys are under investigation with the United States Patent & Trademark Office Office of Enrollment and Discipline which requlates corruption by federally approved patent attorneys registered with the USPTO. Other law firms such as Foley and Lardner are involved in the missapropriations.

Read the entire story at or the blog Patentgate at .

Proskauer partners Steven C. Krane, former President of the New York State Bar Association and Stephen Krane who is married to Chief Judge of the New York courts Judge Judith Kaye have also been implicated in attempting to derail Iviewit's legal efforts through undisclosed conflicts of interest and violations of Supreme Court offices in New York's bar association.


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