Saturday, March 1, 2008

Poster Child for why Judges need to be accountable

As it is now, it is a free for all. Judges can almost do anything and not even get removed from the bench. It is almost unheard of, hearing that a judge got arrested for anything.

Richard "Rick" Guliani was the probate judge in Portland from 1991 to 2006.

Catherine Tierney, grieving the loss of both parents and her husband, filed a complaint against Guliani in 1994 after he failed to recuse himself from ruling on her mother's estate. She had asked for approval to sell her mother's house, but when she learned Guliani was also representing the buyers, she complained. Guliani agreed to let another judge step in.

Two years later, Stephen Ottone, a disgruntled client with a complaint pending before the grievance committee, alerted probate administration that he had met with Guliani several times, in court, to discuss private business. The office repeatedly asked Guliani to respond to the allegation, but he didn't, and the matter was dropped. A similar complaint would surface again, in 2003.

In a recent interview, Ottone, a contractor in Sandwich, N.H., said he had hired Guliani to work on his aunt's estate. His aunt had Parkinson's disease and was in a convalescent home.

Ottone says Guliani left important paperwork unfinished and paid himself her last $3,000. "I never got a bill for any services — he just took the money," he said.

The grievance committee found Ottone's complaint credible, but the outcome of the case has been sealed. Ottone says Guliani later repaid the money. There were other complaints. The court was often closed for days and consistently cited for a backlog of cases. As a judge and in his private practice, Guliani was slow to return calls. One of his court clerks quit after going a full month without pay. [more]

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