After shocking death, candidates seek to fill Fairfield probate void
FAIRFIELD — At least three people have expressed an interest in running for probate judge, according to party officials.
The seat is up for grabs in November due to the sudden death earlier this month of popular Probate Judge Daniel Caruso. A Republican, Caruso ran unopposed the last time he was on the ballot in 2014.
Democratic Town Committee Chairman Steve Sheinberg said at this point, his party has a candidate who plans to make an announcement within the next few weeks. Until then, Sheinberg declined to disclose the potential candidate’s name.
“We have had several potential candidates inquire about running,” Republican Town Committee Chairman James Millington said.
Seeking the Republican endorsement are Bryan LeClerc and Thomas Noonan.
Both parties will hold caucuses in May to select a probate judge candidate.
“I think it’s a great service I could provide the people of Fairfield,” LeClerc, 55, said. “I’ve always been about helping people, and that’s why I want to do this.”
LeClerc, a partner with Berchem Moses PC, served on the Town Plan and Zoning Commission from 2007 to 2013. He was also on the Representative Town Meeting from 1991 to 2007, serving at times as majority leader and moderator. An Eagle Scout, LeClerc is a Scoutmaster and has coached a variety of youth sports.
Noonan, 34, a member of the TPZ, is an associate with Tibbetts, Keating & Butler. A former Connecticut state prosecutor, Noonan is a state-registered guardian ad litem and attorney for minor children.
Until November, Chief Clerk Sybil Mackenzie said five probate judges from different judicial districts are filling in in Fairfield.
“We are current with all of our cases, and people should continue to think of the Probate Court as they always did,” Mackenzie said.
The Probate Court handles such things as overseeing living trusts, probating wills, administering estates, appointing guardians and conservators, terminating parental rights, granting adoptions, emancipating minors, granting name changes and granting U.S. passport applications.
While at one time, a probate judge did not have to be an attorney, state law was changed in 2011. Unless they were in office prior to Jan. 4, 2011, and have served continuously, probate judges must now be members of the Connecticut Bar. Courts are required to be open 40 hours each week, and the probate judge must be “reasonably available at all times,” according to the minimum standards.
Once elected, a probate judge must take part in continuing education in the field of Connecticut probate law. In addition, newly elected judges must participate in a 40-hour training program and attend an all-day Probate Assembly seminar.