The ABA Journal reported here on a Connecticut Bar proceeding in which Connecticut attorney, Joseph J. Notopoulos, was sanctioned for writing a letter to the probate judge handling his mother’s estate. What I found most interesting about this story is that Mr. Notopoulos was sanctioned for accusing the Connecticut probate system of the same nefarious conduct that Prof. John H. Langbein, the Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School, complained of in written testimony just last year (see here). The following are excerpts from the linked-to ABA story:
“A Connecticut attorney says he was writing as a common, if angry, citizen when he sent a letter blasting a probate judge. But that didn’t stop him from being reprimanded–nor did his appeal to the state supreme court. Stating that Joseph J. Notopoulos provided no factual basis for statements he made attacking the probate judge overseeing his mother’s estate, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the Statewide Grievance Committee’s reprimand of the attorney. The court rejected Notopoulos’ claim that it was improper to reprimand him for comments made while acting outside his role as an attorney, and that the reprimand violated his free-speech rights. Notopoulos v. Statewide Grievance Committee, No. SC 17341 (Feb. 14).” “Notopoulos says the disciplinary action ignores the real issue of the probate system in Connecticut, which he believes is rife with conflicts of interest and cronyism. In Connecticut, probate judges are “elected town politicians with no educational requirements placed on them,” Notopoulos says. Yet he admits Berman is an attorney by training and a member of the Connecticut bar.”
And here is an excerpt from Prof. Langbein’s testimony:
“The sad truth is that much of what goes on in Connecticut probate courts can only be called a shakedown. Our procedures invite judges to extort money from the estates of decedents by insisting upon needless court filings and court approvals.”
Maybe Prof. Langbein is next on the Connecticut Bar’s hit list?