Government Administration and Elections Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-448

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING PROBATE JUDGES.

Vote Date:

3/10/2008

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/29/2008

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Representative Deborah Heinrich, 101st District

REASONS FOR BILL:

This bill follows in response to news reports that a Probate Judge in Madison had solicited campaign contributions from attorneys appearing before the Court. There are no present restrictions regarding who Probate Judges can solicit and accept money from to run campaigns for election and re-election.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

Requires Registrar of Voters be included in the proposed legislation by the State Elections Enforcement Commission (line 6).

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Judge James J. Lawlor, Probate Court Administrator: This bill will work cooperatively with the Code of Probate Judicial Conduct to ensure that there are never any questions of impropriety or impartiality. The Office of the Probate Court Administrator intends to cooperate with the study so that a meaningful outcome can be reached.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Judge Diane S. Blick, Litchfield District Probate Court: Unlike Judges of the Superior, Appellate and Supreme Court, Probate Judges are elected. In this process, candidates for Probate Judge are exposed to a large number of members of our communities and it is this election process that costs money resulting in necessary fund raising efforts to support one's candidacy.

Inasmuch as Probate Judges “serve the public” in the community in which they must reside, it would be unreasonable to expect that campaign funds would be raised from members of the community who would not, eventually, have business before the Court thus creating a possible conflict of interest or question of impropriety.

Participating in the Citizens' Election Program would enable candidates for Judge of Probate to fund their election or re-election campaigns without jeopardizing the integrity and impartiality of the office of Judge of Probate.

Andy Sauer, Executive Director, Connecticut Common Cause

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Nothing submitted.

Reported by: Jared W. Kupiec

Date: 3/11/08