In the latest attempt to clean up the Brooklyn courts, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct determined today that the Brooklyn Surrogate, Michael Feinberg, should be removed from office.
The Commission — following a line opened by the late Jack Newfield — found that Feinberg directed “excessive and overly generous” fees to a friend.
The Surrogate’s Court, which administers the estates of people who die without a valid will, is a patronage plum in a political system that makes the courts a cash cow for connected lawyers. If Feinberg is removed — we’re told that process, in the hands of the Court of Appeals and Chief Judge Judith Kaye will take about 6 months, though he could be suspended sooner — Governor Pataki will appoint an interim replacement. That appointment would be a remarkable opportunity to choke off some of the money flowing from the courts to Brooklyn’s politicized legal establishment, which in turn writes checks to the politicians who make the judges.
In a twist that would surely madden, not to mention impoverish, various Brooklyn lawyers, we’ve heard the name of a Brooklyn insurgent and Newfield favorite, Margarita Lopez-Torres, floated as an interim Surrogate or as a candidate in the next election.