Brooklyn Surrogate's Court 2005

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

B'klyn scandal lawyer gets ax

NY DAILY NEWS 3-2-05
BY NANCIE L. KATZ
A veteran judge was tapped yesterday to take over as acting Brooklyn surrogate - and he promptly fired the lawyer at the center of the corruption scandal that rocked the court.

State Supreme Court Justice Albert Tomei replaces Judge Michael Feinberg, who was suspended from the surrogate's bench last week.

Feinberg was ousted on the recommendation of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The commission confirmed a Daily News investigation that found Feinberg regularly approved excessive fees for pal Louis Rosenthal, whom he appointed in 1997 to help handle the estates of Brooklynites who died without leaving wills.

Tomei, a Democrat whose niece is actress Marisa Tomei, said his first move was to meet with Rosenthal, Feinberg's former law school classmate.

"I informed him that ... he would not be getting any more future assignments," Albert Tomei said.

As for cases Rosenthal is already handling, Tomei said, "He'll maintain those he has and we'll scrutinize them."

The commission found Feinberg routinely allowed Rosenthal to bill estates for exorbitant legal fees without filing legally required documents explaining what he did to earn them.

Tomei, a judge for nearly three decades, was named acting surrogate by state Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Lippman said he was trying "to promote public confidence" in the battered Brooklyn courts, where two judges have been charged in bribery cases and state and federal prosecutors continue to probe other allegations of wrongdoing.

Feinberg has appealed to the state Court of Appeals in Albany in an attempt to save his job.

If the court rules against him, the surrogate's post will be permanently filled in a November election

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