Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Surrogate Feinberg, RIP

Daily News - Editorial
February 15, 2005

Brooklyn Surrogate Judge Michael Feinberg allowed an old pal to engage in court-sanctioned graverobbing, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct concluded yesterday in calling on the state's highest court to bounce Feinberg from the bench. We concur.

Feinberg's unfitness for office has been clear since Daily News reporters Larry Cohler-Esses and Nancie Katz disclosed in 2002 that he had allowed lawyer Louis Rosenthal to charge exorbitant fees for overseeing the estates of Brooklynites who died without wills. The commission tallied the ripoff at $2 million.

For clubhouse pols, being named surrogate is like dying and going to patronage heaven. Surrogates preside over the disposition of estates and get to hand out thousands of assignments to lawyers. Feinberg did such a favor for Rosenthal, with whom he's been chummy since law school, and then let him take 8% out of estates, rather than the 6% legal max - without even filing the required paperwork.

According to the commission, Feinberg defended himself by pleading ignorance of the law (which should be a firing offense) and was otherwise "incredible, evasive and unreliable." Which means the Court of Appeals should also render him unemployed.

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