Saturday, August 4, 2012

New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe and Her Coterie of Supporters For Her Election To Manhattan Surrogate Court

Judge Barbara Jaffe is currently running for Manhattan Surrogate, or the position as Director of the Court of Grave Robbers.

Below is a list of her supporters, among many nameless, I'm sure. See who you know, and who will be directing her actions when - or if - she takes the bench in Surrogate's Court at 31 Chambers Street, 5th Floor. I know these grave robbers very well.

Betsy Combier



Dear Friend,
I am running for Manhattan Surrogate in this year’s primary election on September 13, 2012, and seek the honor of your support.
The Surrogate oversees the administration of trusts and estates and guardianships — dealing with some of life’s most sensitive issues. The cases that come before the Surrogate require the experience, skill, and attention of a seasoned jurist — as well as patience and understanding.
As a judge for more than ten years, serving in the Criminal, Civil and Supreme Courts, I have dealt with many of the issues that commonly arise in the Surrogate’s Court, from the distribution of assets to the untangling of thorny family matters. In my special assignment as a matrimonial trial judge, I decide custody issues with the compassion and sensitivity gained through a lifetime of experience. Presiding over many trials with self-represented litigants, I know how to level the playing field — the only way justice can truly be achieved.
New York families count on the Surrogate’s Court for justice. I’ve spent my life pursuing justice for New Yorkers. It would be an honor for me to have your support in my campaign to become Manhattan’s next Surrogate.
Barbara Jaffe



"I am truly honored to have the endorsement of so many respected community leaders and retired judges who understand the critical work that needs to be done in the Surrogate's Court and the importance of this election." - Judge Barbara Jaffe

Recently endorsed by the New York Criminal and Civil Courts Bar Associationthe New York State Court Officers Association, and the Downtown Lawyers Group
Retired former judges support Judge Jaffe for Surrogate:
E. Leo Milonas, Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York; Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department
Betty Weinberg Ellerin, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, First Department
Israel Rubin, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department
Seymour Boyers, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department
Stephen Crane, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department
Jacqueline W. Silbermann, Administrative Judge, New York State Supreme Court, Civil Term
Leslie Crocker Snyder, Court of Claims/Acting Supreme Court Justice
Harold Beeler, Justice, New York State Supreme Court
Herman Cahn, Justice, New York Supreme Court
Rose Rubin, Justice, New York State Supreme Court
Walter Tolub, Justice, New York State Supreme Court
Saralee Evans, Acting Justice, New York State Supreme Court
Ira Globerman, Acting Justice, New York State Supreme Court
Jay Gold, Acting Justice, New York State Supreme Court
Jane Solomon, Acting Justice, New York State Supreme Court

Strong support from neighborhood democratic clubs:
Lexington Democratic Club
Samuel J Tilden Democratic Club
East Side Democratic Club
Three Parks Independent Democrats
Park River Independent Democrats
Ansonia Independent Democrats
Village Reform Democratic Club
United Democratic Organization of Chinatown
McManus Democratic Club
Lower Manhattan Democrats
Chelsea Midtown Democrats

Elected officials and district leaders supporting Judge Jaffe for Surrogate:
Former Governor David Paterson
Assemblymember Dan Quart
Trudy L Mason, State Committee
Conrad Foa, State Committee
Arthur Schiff
Linda Foa
Jake Dilemani
Sally Minard
Larry Rosenstock
Steven Smollens
Louise Dankberg
Frank Wilkinson
Pauline Dana-Bashian
Robert Botfeld
Cynthia Doty
Herbert Kee
Jenny Low
Gerald Kahn
Georgette Gittens
Earl Scott
Corey Haber
Joan Paylo

Along with support from distinguished community leaders:
Henry Lehman, former District Leader, Audubon Reform Democratic Club
Gene Glaberman, President, Chelsea Midtown Dems
Lew Todd, founder, Stonewall Dem. Club
Steve Askenazy, founder, Stonewall Dem. Club
Diana Montford, The Diana Montford Show
Martin Algaze, Past Pres. Stonewall Dem. Club
Robert Zuckerman, Past Pres., Stonewall Dem. Club
Cirino Bruno, Past Pres., Columbian Lawyers Association
Joseph DiMatteo, Pres., Columbian Lawyers Association
Ron Zezima, Past Pres. Columbian Lawyers Association; Association of Arbitrators of Small Claims
Irwin Kahn, Past Pres. Jewish Lawyers Guild
Fred Molod, Past Pres. Jewish Lawyers Guild
Rosalind Fink, Past Pres. New York County Lawyers Association
Howard Sharfstein, Past Pres., Central Synogogue

How insiders snatch millions from estates in the scandal-scarred Surrogate Courts

Last Updated: 10:59 AM, July 29, 2012
Posted: 1:25 AM, July 29, 2012

If you’re a lawyer in New York, there’s no sweeter deal than getting assigned to an estate case in Surrogate’s Court.
The work is often routine — selling assets, paying bills, contacting heirs — but the pay can reach into the millions.
Landing such a gig requires currying favor with one of the city’s seven surrogate judges, who handle wills and estates. They have the power to appoint lawyers and approve their sometimes jaw-dropping invoices.
The jobs often go to the judges’ friends, associates or campaign contributors, court authorities admit. Looting of the estates can sometimes result.
The most recent example involves Bronx Judge Lee Holzman, who last week faced removal from the surrogate bench after he signed off on legal work that was never done.
The bills, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, totaled $300,000 and went to the judge’s associate, lawyer Michael Lippman, a Democratic Party crony who ran Holzman’s campaign financing, raising $125,000, a court watchdog claims.
Lippman then got into money trouble himself, racking up $1 million in gambling debts and allegedly faking bills to cover his losses.
Prosecutors say they uncovered the cooked books and charged him with fraud.
Another alleged thief preyed on a lucrative and largely unsupervised part of the system — cases in which there is no will.
Such cases go to public administrators, who work with Surrogate’s Court judges in handling their finances.
In May, Richard Paul, the bookkeeper for the Brooklyn public administrator, was indicted for stealing $2.6 million from these estates, allegedly manipulating the check-writing process to get at the cash.
Judges who allow fraudulent pay-outs are “a disgrace to the legal profession and to the state of New York,” said Monroe Freedman, a Hofstra University professor and leading expert on legal ethics. “They should be removed from the bench and disbarred.”
Freedman said an entrenched system of favor-trading, with hints of bribery, has persisted for decades.
“They’re stealing from the client, which is one of the worst things you can do,” he said. “I can’t think of much worse. The judges are not only condoning it, but they’re helping lawyers do it.”
Even when there is no illegality, huge sums vanish.
A decade after Wall Street investment banker Ted Ammon was beaten to death in his East Hampton home, a group of politically connected lawyers pummeled his estate with $10 million in fees, records show.
That amounts to 20 percent of his $50 million fortune, well above the 6 percent rate that court administrators deem acceptable.
The staggering payments helped shrink the inheritance of Ammon’s adopted twin children — son Grego and daughter Alexa — to just $1 million each.
The hefty legal tab was rubber-stamped by Surrogate’s Court judges in Manhattan and Long Island.
One of them, former Manhattan Surrogate Eve Preminger, approved $4.3 million to a single firm, Schulte, Roth & Zabel.
That amounts to $9,710 per day between February 2002 and July 2003.
Preminger had personal ties to the firm. She privately worked with Schulte’s pointwoman on the case, lawyer Susan Frunzi. The two wrote a textbook, “Trusts and Estates Practice in New York,” together.
The judge also owned stock in JPMorgan Chase, which she approved as estate executor.
The bank picked Schulte, then submitted its own bill for $1.6 million.
After Ammon’s widow, Generosa, died of cancer in 2003, the matter moved to Surrogate’s Court in Suffolk County, where Gerard Sweeney, an insider with the Queens Democratic machine, made a windfall.
He and another lawyer, Michael Dowd, were executors to the estate of Generosa Ammon, but also got appointed as lawyers by the Suffolk judge, John Czygier.
Together they scooped up a cool $2.2 million.
Sweeney hired Eisner LLP, an accounting firm that charged $123,000 for just one month of work in April 2004.
State court authorities long ago recognized serious problems in the Surrogate’s Courts.
They conducted two blue-ribbon panel reviews, in 2001 and 2005, and found that there was “an opaque system that operates on the basis of connections and cronyism” and that its own rules were being ignored.
So in 2002, they pushed through reforms, barring court employees and political party leaders from getting fiduciary appointments.
Any lawyer who earns more than $75,000 in a given year on a single case he’s appointed to now must wait a year before getting a second appointment.
There’s also a “sunshine” provision that demands the court system publish the names of appointees and their fees on its official Web site.
But that hasn’t stopped the tide of scandal.
Former Brooklyn Surrogate Michael Feinberg was forced out in 2005 and disbarred for approving excessive fees of 8 percent to a law-school friend.
His successor, Frank Seddio, stepped down in 2007 amid a probe by the watchdog Commission on Judicial Conduct into allegations he sent campaign cash to political cronies.
A commission committee voted to boot Holzman last week, but he’s fighting to keep his job.
His defense is to claim that other surrogates did the same thing — namely, signing off on fat payments without examining invoices, a practice that court authorities say is not OK.
His examples, listed in rebuttal to the charges, include former Manhattan Surrogate Renee Roth, one of the four Ammon judges, who was ripped by the city bar association for handing two-thirds of her lucrative legal assignments to attorneys who funded her election.
Has anything really changed?
Not according to former Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Felice Shea, who was hired as a referee on the Holzman matter and dryly concluded last week that in Surrogate’s Courts “statutory compliance and transparency are not the norm.”
Court spokesman David Bookstaver said the new rules have greatly improved the system.
“They certainly lend themselves to much greater accountability and transparency and have gone a long way to increase the public’s understanding and confidence in the Surrogate Courts,” he said.
Preminger, Roth, Frunzi, Sweeney and Dowd did not return calls for comment.
Before his death in 2001, Ammon doted on children Grego and Alexa, who are now 21, but they stand to inherit far less than what has been paid to the court-approved experts — just $500,000 in cash each, plus $1million for them to share in a trust named after the widow Generosa.
That trust has only one other asset: the East Hampton home where their father was killed by Generosa’s husband, Danny Pelosi.
But the house, valued at $9 million, cannot be sold until their former nanny, Kathryn Ann Mayne, dies.
She gets to live there for free for as long as she wants.

Additional reporting by Alex Freeman


  1. stop the abuses of corrupt lawyers who steal
    from our surrogates courts and take guardianships and receiverships from those suffering. it is theft and those lawyers and politicians involved in this corruption must be stopped as all judges must be selected based on merit, education, experience from unbiased independent panel of non political people to get put on the ballot. There must be laws passed right away to protect us against the corruption of shelly silver, helene weinstein and others in the assembly who use the government to benefit themselves and their friends only. It is clear that hardly anything gets done in Albany and Washingto and panels of watchdogs must be assigned to make sure session starts each week on time and that all officials are present by signing them in. see corruption in queens supreme as administrative judge weinstein encourages churning of divorce cases and lets them go on for years so his pals can make mega bucks such as dikmann, gemelli, sager, vreeburg, and others connected to politicians and he lets lawyers rob the surrogates courts and he can be seen personally sending the right judges the big cases his brother johanthan removed for misconduct with the surrogates court get new administrative judge in queens supreme, criminal and family court and only allow them to stay for two years term limits on assembly, congress, and senate in albany and washington for 4 years get fresh blood in and do not allow mobsters into office better backround checks of politicians and all election money paid for by the state and politicians in office who are lawyers cannot make bills to benefit their own type of law or that of any of their relatives and can not do more than one bill a year in law if they are a lawyer such as bruenstein doing elder bills when he is a lawyer in elder law and so is his wife unjust

  2. there must be a way to get judges who were selected by lawyers and politicians to help them in their corruption removed asap and to stop the process of having politicans pick judges. surrogates court must be monitored by a panel of non political people and there must be cameras in every court room and in every chamber of every judge and all court rooms must allow cameras and reporters especially corrupt is queens family court where they do not allow the public in tiny court rooms and cannot even get a judge to hear your case as you are entitled to under the law. many of the judges selected in supreme courts, appellate courts, court of appeals are only there because politicians put them there and many of them are not qualified or smart enough to be presiding over a court room to make decisions in the lives of the public. Mary ellen fitmuarice is a retired judge who was a nun who had disciplinary charges against her forcing her into retirement due to her misconduct on the bench as she was a nasty judge who took sides as a biased judge which is illegal as she was to recuse herself if she was biased and she was hated by all. she must be held accountable for all of her mistakes and justice must be served with her paying back litigants in money damages for abused she subjected them to. Sid strauss also must be taken off the bench due to his incompetence and his temper. He violates the canons of judicial conduct all the time and is not fit to make decisions in others lives. He got the bill passed so judges can stay on until they are 75 when they often cannot remember things after 60. it was self serving and it is known that he is out playing tennis all morning at the forest hills gardens tennis club when he is to be presiding over his court room. he enjoys expensive lunches he is taken to by lawyers that pay him off? he has a place in puerto rico which he gives lawyers such as steve greenfield the key to??? he ruined the lives of annmarie macavoy by taking her son without a hearing away from her for 5 years so his friend audrey sager could makea a million dollars churning the case and he had ex parte communications with audrey in front of many witnesses he is a friend of leslie niesen, alex potruch, mike dikman, alan bodder. He withdrew from cases due to friedship with alex but in macavoy case kept the case and intentionally ruled against her to show not biaseed in favor of his pal alex and now he and alex not friends. judge bernice segal picked as a judge because her husband kevin lynch is a union leader of the working class family and that party is financing the support of different Jewish candidates. Judge Siegel has kept Alex Roberts from her son for three years without a hearing when she was full time mother to her son since birth and the judge is churning the case, mocking the mom, not letting her have her son on holidays and wiping her out financially by having her house given to her ex husband who has a new girlfriend living with him.
    judges carol stokinger must be replaced asap as administrative judge of family court due to corruption and abuse of power and judges bogacz, salinitro, referee stanton, referee contaratos, kirshblum and others must be removed from the system. judge liebowtiz must not be permitted to preside over cases as he ignores cases and too lazy to read papers. judge jackman brown takes too long to decide cases and must have time certain appointments and they all must have time certain appointments.
    da brown should retire and get new district attorney this year and have term limits of 4 years. it is surprising that the judges and da brown attend fund raisers for judges and parties of politicians.
    judge seymour boyers is on commitee to select judges to appellate division why? change all those on the panel every two years.
    why was judge eng selected to prside in 2nd dept and why is judge sherry roman there? what qualifications do they have that got them there

  3. Imperative to have investigators and the media go into queens family court and queens supreme, the second dept of appelllate division and to the court of appeals in ny state to see the way judges and court staff fail to encourage or allow due process for litigants and how they wrongfully allow cases to be churned for years. The juthe elected officials who are often lawyers or the elected sends their relative or law partner in to get turt, receiverships, in foster care etc. Cameras must be put in court rooms and in chambers of every court room in every court get rid of court reporters and investigate misconduct of referee julie stanton in queens family court and judge steven bogacz, judge stokinger, judge barbara salinitro, contaratis and in supreme force retirement of judge strauss right away (he has many complaints against him and he has made a lot of mistakes), watch Judge weinstein who is administrative judge in queens as he has been there too long and his own brother involved with robbing surrogates court and it is believed that judge weinstein part of the corruption in sending cases to certain judges such as nehman who is known to have given surrogate work mostly to same corrupt politiicans over teh past 15 + years and now he is back set in position by judge weinstein queens supreme known for corruption of unethical lawyers over past 20+ YEARS while judge weinstein and his father moses presided over the court get rid of surrogates or do the anti trust laws to stop loop poles left open by shelly silver who keeps helene weinstein running the assembly judiciary commitee so that no relief can be gotten for litigants being robbed and for the public to encourage new bills getting passed remove shelly silver for good from the government and send him to jail and take out helene weinstein and other corrupt puppets that are in the system and give justice to the people of new york state.
    the elected officials refuse to help constituents with court related issues but run into court to profit for themselves when they want it is a racket that must be publicized.
    corrupt lawyers such as dominick barbara, sari friedman, audrey sager, raul felder, elizabeth vreeburg, alex potruch, mike joseph, mike riley, steve greenfield, wisselman and harounian must be forced to pay back unused legal fees and be prohibited by law from overcharging, extorting legal fees and abusing litigants rights and interests and they must be ordered under the law to malpractice suits and hearings against them for misconduct in divorce cases in ny.
    referee julie stanton must be removed from queens courts as she was thrown out of brooklyn courts for allegedly failing to ever handle family cases fairly and for allegedly having relations with someone in the court house and getting caught. she has been removed from queens before, from brooklyn, and from staten island and is only allowed to do limited amounts of things in queens court due to misconduct in handling many cases and abusing litigants rights and children's rights unjustly. time to take out judge bogacz from the system after he for so many years has litigants sitting around all day waiting for their case to be called when he gets in after11 takes a two hour lunc and hardly has any cases after lunch the court house empty by 3 30pm. He has complaints against him for keeping juvi cases going unnecessarily to make money for corporation counsel. He refuses to give time certain appts. and refuses to let oral argument on motions and refuses to allow litigants their constitutional rights remove this judge for misconduct right away.
    judge sid strass took child away from litigant macavoy annmarie for no reason as she was a fit mother all along. she is a lawyer who had her case churned in queens supreme for over 5 years and cost her over a million to have the court steal the money and keep her and her son apart. judge strauss involved in causing a russian mother to have her ex husband killed by taking her little daughter

    1. Everyone hates Renner. Her oen children hate her. Human garbage!

  4. are you referring to Elizabeth Renner?
    She is a sick woman
    And yes, she has made her daughters' live a living hell