Four Republicans to battle to fill probate judge spot
FAIRFIELD — Four attorneys made the case as to why they should be the Republican candidate for probate judge at Tuesday’s Republican Town Committee meeting.
Committee members will make their choice at a nomination convention later this month. The judgeship is open because of the sudden death of Probate Judge Daniel Caruso, 60, earlier this year.
“I never thought I would ever practice in Fairfield with any other probate judge,” said candidate Brian Cantor, 56. Cantor said the law practice focuses on probate and real estate law, and Caruso would often appoint his as a conservator. As probate judge, he said, the court business would be his primary jobs, and not one he would do “just a few days a week.”
Cantor, a former Representative Town Meeting member, said he would be able to keep the seat in GOP hands because he has crossover appeal with Democrats. Cantor said he has the right personality for the position and a good temperament for a judge.
Town Plan and Zoning member Thomas Noonan, 34, said while he has primarily been a litigator specializing in managed care litigation, he has also done real estate closings, business development, and some probate work.
“While I have not specialized in Probate Court work, it will not hamper my ability,” Noonan said. “As a litigator, I’m an adept researcher.
With a double major in college in accounting and philosophy, Noonan said the accounting aids in the financial aspect of the work, while philosophy helps him step out of the box. “I’m confident in my good judgment and professional demeanor.”
The third contender is Luke Thomas, 45, who said he first met Caruso when Caruso was a state legislator and Thomas worked at the Capital. “Seeking this office is bittersweet for me because Dan was a friend of mine,” he said, noting the two used to carpool together to Hartford.
After graduating from law school, Thomas said Caruso was a mentor to him. “Whenever he needed me to be a conservator, I would do it pro bono,” Thomas said. And after working on his own, Thomas joined the firm of Owens Shine Nicola, where Caruso also practiced.
“I’m not sure anyone can fill Dan’s shoes,” Thomas said. “I will strive to emulate the man.”
Bryan LeClerc, 56, a former member of the TPZ and the Representative Town Meeting, said, “I never expected I’d be making this announcement.”
He said he’s appeared in the Probate Court numerous times, often serving as a conservator, and very often doing it for free.
“I’ve been involved and dedicated to Fairfield and our community,” LeClerc said, listing service with the Boy Scouts, the YMCA and the Fairfield University Alumni Association. “I was also involved last year in raising money for a girl who need a special wheelchair,” he said, and also spent time as hearing officer for parking ticket appeals — “a thankless job.”
LeClerc said he also receiving the RTC’s community service award, and was the founder of the group’s Lincoln Day dinner.
“Like Dan, I’m an Eagle Scout,” he said, “and that’s important.” LeClerc said he lives his life and practices law according to those Scout beliefs— being honest, loyal, helpful and friendly.
“I have the name recognition,” he said, and the ability to win.