Probate Judge is Available After Hours if Necessary

Nearly 1 ½ years ago, probate courts across the state were consolidated from 117 courts to the current number of 54 courts.{{more}} It was a drastic reduction precipitated by the insurmountable deficit faced by the probate system. The Orange court was one of the smaller courts that was consolidated to become part of the Milford-Orange Probate District.

Though to some, the concern for the loss of small town flavor to our courts made some people wary of the consolidation. In the end, the cost saving benefits to the citizens of Connecticut while still maintaining the traditional informal, user friendly format of the probate courts has proven to be far greater than originally anticipated. By eliminating more than 50 percent of the judges and their salaries and benefits among other reductions, we have saved nearly $4 million in just the first year of consolidation. And in today’s economy, government reduction with the same or greater services to the public is frankly unheard of.

It has been a huge economic success while at the same time the Milford-Orange Probate Court continues to operate in an accessible, friendly manner. Additional benefits to the public include full time hours for operations. Although the Milford Court had always been open 40 hours a week, the Orange Court had only been open on a part-time basis from its inception in the 1970s.

As Judge, I am also available on an emergency basis at all times after hours through an emergency telephone number: 203-581-1288. Unlike judges of other systems, probate judges are “on call” judges, ready and willing to step in even over a weekend to adjudicate an emergency matter.

You might wonder – in what kind of situation would I need a probate judge on a Friday night? And you may be surprised to learn that emergency hospitalizations, children abandoned by a parent, psychiatric episodes often require probate judge intervention so that family members have the legal authority to act on behalf of and work to protect their loved ones.

One such case involved a young man who was involved in a motor vehicle accident on a Friday night. At 22 years old, Mike never thought about having a power of attorney or health care directive. In fact, he probably did not even know what those documents were. But now he was unconscious, could not give consent to medical treatment and no one had the legal authority to make decisions for him. In life threatening situations, medical providers have protocols to allow for immediate, emergency treatment. But after that, who could make decisions on Mike’s behalf? His parents? No. His sister? No. Mike required a conservator since he was incapable of making decisions for himself.

So a call to my emergency telephone number and Mike’s parents were able to apply for an emergency ex parte appointment of a temporary conservator. As judge, it is heart rending to learn of such tragedies. But it is rewarding to know that in an emergency, I am only a phone call away to helping out.

The Milford-Orange Probate Court is located at the Parsons Complex, 70 W. River St., Milford. Hours are Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Telephone inquiries may be made to: 203-783-3205.