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David Bedell for Judge of Probate, Stamford 2006

I am not a lawyer. Neither are a lot of Connecticut's probate judges, yet these are the people who make decisions about the guardianship and temporary custody of children, about parental rights and adoptions, and about the disposition of estates worth millions of dollars. Shouldn't a background in the law, or experience in juvenile and elder care, be a minimum requirement for the job?

In our current system, Judge of Probate is a political plum won through partisan election campaigns. I will advocate for legislation to make this a nonpartisan appointment based on qualifications, including knowledge of the law - and I will be the first to resign my post once the reforms are passed.

Many of Connecticut's probate judges work part-time while raking in a generous income through court fees and enjoying retirement benefits and a far better >health insurance plan than most Connecticut residents have.

Judge of Probate should be a salaried job, full-time in cities like Stamford - not an opportunity to profit from each family that has lost a loved one.

Probate Judges should not be simultaneously practicing as probate lawyers--this raises clear conflicts of interest. You can be assured that if elected, I will NOT run a lucrative law practice on the side. The Stamford court will be open for business with a judge on duty full time, and any idle hours will be devoted to public service. For example, we can begin digitizing all of Stamford's pre-1900 probate records and make them available on the Internet as an aid to historical and genealogical research. These public records are a valuable resource that should be accessible to all.

Please support my campaign to bring Connecticut's probate system in line with the recommended standards of the Uniform Probate Code.

>Judges and Lawyers Debate Probate System
From the Connecticut section of the New York Times
February 5, 2006
Jane Gordon

WILL ROGERS once said, "The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."

Obviously, he was not talking about Connecticut.

When Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed into law a bill that redefined estate taxes last June, she also raised probate court fees, a move that made it more costly to die in Connecticut.
>Read more

The Scandal of Connecticut's Probate Courts
Statement of Prof. John H. Langbein to Conn. Legislature Committee

When citizens of our state ask me about Connecticut probate, I give this simple advice: Try not to die in Connecticut.
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Probate System Going Bust
From the Hartford Courant
July 22, 2006
Kim Martineau

The system is about to collapse under its own weight.
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