The JV – Judge Elena Baron for Surrogate’s Court in Bklyn – No More Attorneys or Party Bosses Paying for Surrogate Judges

The Jewish Voice Endorses Judge Elena Baron for Bklyn’s Surrogate Court

 

Judge Elena Baron has earned a stellar reputation of showing genuine concern about matters directly affecting our community, such as closures of yeshivos and synagogues; as she handles cases brought before her on the bench with palpable sensitivity and profound compassion.

Urging all our readers to vote in the June 25th election

As the end of yet another decade is fast approaching, for Brooklynites this juncture in time has taken on added meaning. Just ask any resident of the County of Kings and they will tell you that the upcoming June 25th election is the most crucial in terms of defining our future as a borough that is predicated on an unwavering commitment to championing the highest degree of legal ethics.

On June 25th, Brooklynites from every area of the borough will flock to the polls to push the lever in the Democratic primary for a judgeship position in Surrogate Court. The reason this particular election is of paramount importance is because Brooklyn has a very long and exceptionally proud legacy of tenaciously upholding its cherished values, traditions and customs which have been the bedrock of life of this truly beloved place on earth that we all call home. And now, a tireless advocate for our rights and an extremely qualified and experienced jurist who has thrown her proverbial hat in the ring to serve all Brooklynites as she runs for Surrogate Court seat.  Her name is Judge Elena Baron and it is a name that all of us must become familiar with.

What happens in the Surrogate Court is of vital importance to the Jewish community. The Surrogate’s Court oversees all matters relating to a decedent’s estate.  A great deal of money from Jewish decedents comes through Surrogate Court.  The judge in the Surrogate’s Court is called the Surrogate, and this person renders crucial decisions pertaining to deeply personal issues regarding families during the most vulnerable times of their lives. This includes, but is not limited to, such matters as burial arrangements, property disputes, adoptions and guardianships for minors in order to ensure that the assets are used for the minor’s benefit, as well as for legally incapacitated persons.  A Surrogate Court Judge is consistently called upon to decide very complex and thorny issues, with disputes and litigation involving contested probate proceedings including validation of documents such as Wills or Trusts, document interpretation, kinship issues, business matters and family disputes.  Also under the aegis of the Surrogate’s Court are accountings, where the appointed executor or administrator provides a record of all financial transactions and expenses relating to a decedent’s estate.

Judge Elena Baron has earned a stellar reputation of showing genuine concern about matters directly affecting our community, such as closures of yeshivos and synagogues; as she handles cases brought before her on the bench with palpable sensitivity and profound compassion.

Judge Baron’s judicial employment history is beyond impressive. She has worked in five New York City courthouses for over a decade, handling guardianship proceedings, fiduciary appointments, receiverships, refereeships, credit card debt, small business corporate matters, personal injury matters, labor law disputes, landlord-tenant issues, and residential and commercial property cases, including foreclosures, as well as small claims.  Those who have stood before her in her court have taken note of her remarkable diligence and her laborious efforts to maintain judicial equity under every and all circumstances.

Judge Baron is grateful for endorsements by Rabbi Aaron D. Twerski, Rabbi Shimon Hecht, Rabbi Rabbi Shea Hecht, Rabbi Avracham Reich, Rabbi Tzvi Twerski, Rabbi Aaron Raskin, Rabbi Bernard Freilich, Rabbi Avraham Reich, Rabbi Chaim Yosef Pinkesz, Rabbi Mendy Hecht, Rabbi Meir Fund, Rabbi Eli Cohen, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Rabbi Shea Rubenstein, Rabbi Moshe Levin,  Rabbi Tamir Zalsman, and many other rabbis and community leaders and she is the only Jewish candidate running in for Surrogate’s court.

“Growing up in the former Soviet Union, under the corrupt and frightening rule of the Communist Party, there was no opportunity for me to explore my Jewish identity or to receive a formal Jewish education. That is why I sent my son to Yeshiva, to learn our traditions, family values, and a commitment to public service.  My grandmother, a doctor, saw more than 100 patients a day, and still found the strength to volunteer, visiting the sick in their homes,” declared Judge Baron.

Judge Baron immigrated to Brooklyn 25 years ago from Rostov-on-Don, the city where great Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Schneerson, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, lived during his final years and is buried.  Rostov is also a site where 27,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in 1942.  Judge Baron’s grandparents were decorated World War II veterans, who lost their family members in the Holocaust.  Judge Baron is an active participant in Jewish life, who serves with alacrity on the board of directors for Congregation B’nai Jacob in Park Slope, gives tzedakah generously and volunteers to fund and feed the Jewish poor, the elderly and the infirm.

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Surrogates’ Court in NYC – “Center of Corruption” Estate Lawyers’ Donations – Elena Baron Not Beholden to Lawyers’ Money

Estate lawyers flood Surrogate’s Court race with campaign contributions

June 20, 2019 Noah Goldberg

In the Brooklyn race for Surrogate’s Court judge, two of the three candidates have raked in contributions from estate lawyers whose business is handled in the court.

While the primary to replace or re-elect current judge Margarita López Torres is by no means a big-money race compared to others, such as the the Queens DA race, a Brooklyn Eagle review of pre-primary reports filed with the state’s Board of Elections shows that both incumbent López Torres and candidate Meredith Jones have taken in at least 35 percent of their donations from estate lawyers.

From left: Margarita López Torres, Meredith Jones, Elena Barron. Photos by Rob Abruzzese (left, right); courtesy of Meredith Jones (center)From left: Margarita López Torres, Meredith Jones, Elena Barron. Photos by Rob Abruzzese (left, right); courtesy of Meredith Jones (center)

Surrogate’s Court is where the estates of the dead are handled, including any debates over wills. Estate lawyers represent family members in the Surrogate’s Court and argue their cases before the surrogate judge.

Related: Why surrogate judges matter: A voter’s primer

Donations from lawyers who have business before the court are not unique to Surrogate’s Court — in races for Civil Court too, local lawyers are big donors, and District Attorneys across New York have come under fire for taking donations from defense attorneys with cases before them.

“Lawyers and law firms — which have business before the courts — are normally donors to political campaigns. But what this does show is that we need to be looking at how we fund campaigns and who funds our civil courts,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a good government group.

Lerner noted that Surrogate’s Courts in New York City have been the center of corruption for decades. In 2005, Brooklyn’s Surrogate Michael Feinberg was kicked off the court after it was revealed that he appointed his law school friend to run the Public Administrator’s Office, and then “improperly awarded” that man millions of dollars, according to a New York Times article at the time.

López Torres, who has been one of the two surrogates in Brooklyn since her insurgent election in 2005, has taken in at least $18,300 from estate lawyers and law firms. That makes up 43 percent of her $42,471 total contributions. Jones raised a more modest sum of at least $3,400 from estate lawyers — but out of her contribution total of $9,400, that’s 35 percent.

The third candidate in the race, Civil Court Judge Elena Baron, did not take in any money from estate lawyers, a review of her campaign filings showed. Baron was the only one of the three candidates rated as “not approved” to run Brooklyn’s Surrogate’s Court by the New York City Bar Association and the Brooklyn Bar Association because she declined to participate in their rating.

“Baron’s extensive experience in civil matters that come before the court is independent of the Surrogate’s Court, political machines and the lawyers that practice before the surrogate court,” said Gary Tilzer, who is running Baron’s campaign.

Some estate lawyers donated to both López Torres and Jones. Brooklyn estate lawyer Michael Kaplan gave $250 to López Torres and $200 to Jones, while another estate lawyer, Ira Kopito, who used to be associate counsel to the public administrator, gave $250 to both.

Both López Torres and Jones say they do not know who their campaign donors are, citing a rule that bars judicial candidates from ascertaining the identities of contributors.

“A judicial candidate may attend his/her own fund-raising event and may actually see and acknowledge individuals in attendance, but the identities of those who contribute to a judicial candidate’s campaign should otherwise be kept from the candidate,” the rule states.

That information, however, is publicly available and easily accessible online.

Jones said she is glad that people are donating to her campaign, saying it means the estate lawyers think she will do a good job.

“I’m happy people have confidence in me to be willing to donate, but I don’t know they are,” Jones told the Eagle.

She has no problem with people donating who have business before the court, she said.

James Brennan, a former Brooklyn assemblymember working on López Torres’ campaign, said that about two-thirds of the incumbent’s campaign money is being self-funded by her and her husband. He also noted that López Torres does not know the identities of her contributors.

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Judge Elena Baron – The Unencumbered Candidate – Surrogate’s Court in Brooklyn

Judge Elena Baron, Running For Surrogate’s Court

Judge Elena Baron, running for Surrogate’s Court in Brooklyn, has garnered a reputation among members of the Jewish community, of genuinely caring about matters that affect it, such as closures of yeshivas and synagogues, handling matters before her with sensitivity and compassion.

“I make sure that every case, no matter how big or small, gets the same attention and care and that expected work gets done properly,” she told The Jewish Press. “I enjoy my work that consists of helping people resolve their problems that bring them to court.”

Baron has worked in five New York City courthouses for over a decade, handling guardianship proceedings, fiduciary appointments, receiverships, refereeships, credit card debt, small business corporate matters, personal injury matters, labor law disputes, landlord-tenant issues, and residential and commercial property cases, including foreclosures, as well as small claims.

“Judge Baron’s independence and her well-diversified experience working in New York City courts for over a decade will make her a very effective surrogate, able to create personalized solutions to many individual family situations that come before the Surrogate’s Court,” said Yana Feldman, an attorney who practices before the Surrogate’s Court.

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An Unencumbered, non-Beholden Female Unbiased Candidate for Surrogate Bench in Brooklyn! – Judge Elena Baron

Op-Ed: Elena Baron Runs For Surrogate Bench Seat & Against Party Bosses

The Democratic primary for Brooklyn’s Surrogate Court Judge on June 25 is expected to have one of the lowest voter turn-outs in history.  That’s a shame. The race for Surrogate Court Judge is the last chance to cut off the cash supply of the Brooklyn Democratic Party Machine, which makes its living off the Brooklyn courts.

In 1966, New York’s newly elected Senator Robert Kennedy drew national attention to the race for the Manhattan Surrogate Judge.  Kennedy backed an obscure Russian-Immigrant Manhattan Judge Samuel Silverman, for Surrogate court against the Manhattan Democratic Party hack judge for three reasons:  to purge the democratic machine patronage from the Surrogate’s Court, to get even with the party leaders who blocked his proposed party reforms to end corruption and to open the Democratic Party to all New Yorkers.

Robert Kennedy said that electing Silverman to the Surrogate Court was the first step in cleaning up the court patronage–the “worst element in our political parties.”  Like Silverman, Judge Elena Baron running for the Surrogate Court, is a Russian immigrant, who has already shown her independence by getting elected to Civil Court in a grassroots campaign against the party machine.

The self-proclaimed “Progressive-Reformers” in Brooklyn have had an unhealthy arrangement on ceding control of the Brooklyn Courthouse to the Democratic Party for the past decade.

At last year’s Kings County Committee meeting, the New Kings Democrats and the new county committee members were bullied by party leaders’ Frank Seddio, County Lawyer Marty Connor and the infamous de Blasio fixer Frank Carone, who used unauthorized proxies and the County Committee meeting to back-flip their hack candidates for Judge.
The back-flip is a simple political maneuver by which the County machine first collects petitions for an incumbent judge, then moves the re-elected incumbent to the Supreme Court within a week of the primary at the Judicial Convention and finally, inserts the party’s candidate into the now vacant seat of the incumbent, bypassing the voters altogether.  While most courts mandate retirement at 70, the Supreme Court allows for age extensions. This year’s County candidate for Surrogate, Margarita Lopez Torres, who is running for a 14 years term, is 68 years old and will have to retire at 70, in two years.

The New Kings Democrats have never been involved in any race against the Democratic Party machine picked Judges.  Nevertheless, when interviewed about this year’s Surrogate Court race, NKD president Brandon West promised: “Any backroom deals made within the party are not something we’ll support.”

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Judge Elena Baron – The Unencumbered Candidate for Surrogate’s Court – Cleaning Up Brooklyn Politics

Judge Elena Baron Campaign for Surrogate Court: One Woman Against Brooklyn’s Political Bosses

Community and political leaders were astounded when in 2017 Elena Baron beat Brooklyn’s political bosses and won her election to become a Civil Court Judge.  Elena ran a grassroots judicial campaign winning by an overwhelming majority against three opponents in the 6th municipal court district, all backed by politicians.  Voters understood the importance of Baron’s independence from entrenched political insiders, who according to the NY Times pick almost all the judges in Brooklyn.  This year, Baron, who is running for Surrogate Court, is clearly the front runner in the race. Voters do not want to see lawyers connected to the Democratic Party looting the estates of widows, seniors and orphans in the Brooklyn Surrogate Court.  

Judge Elena Baron

In Brooklyn Heights Anne got out of her car to tell Baron, who was campaigning, how courageous she was to take on the Brooklyn Democratic Party Bosses and to run independent for judge.  In an era where the so-called progressives and reformers look the other way as the political bosses pick judges and use our courts for patronage, Baron is the leader that Brooklyn needs. 

Ann was familiar with how the Surrogate court operates because her close friend fell into a serious life-long depression after the estate of her mother was drained by administrators appointed by a Surrogate Court Judge. One of Elena’s best friends compared her campaign against the political bosses to the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where an outsider takes on the entrenched establishment to serve the people. 

Judge Elena Baron has spent over a decade working in five NYC Courthouses with a wide variety of issues and matters that come before the civil and supreme courts.  Elena has worked with families going through guardianships, dealt with myriads of issues pertaining to residential and commercial real estate, small claims, receiverships and refereeships, as well as matters concerning credit card debt and personal injury cases.   “Judge Baron’s independence and her well-diversified experience working in NYC Courts for over a decade will make her a very effective Surrogate, able to create personalized solutions to many individual family situations that come before the Surrogate Court,” said Yana Saffian, an attorney who practices before the Surrogate Court.  Elena has a track record of being independent from the Democratic party bosses, having been elected grass roots as a Civil Court Judge.    

To enter the Surrogate Court is to stumble upon Ponce de Leon’s own spring, an eternal source of easy money for the politically wired.  The Surrogate Court Judges appoint guardians to estates who make handsome fees of those residents who die without wills.  Robert Kennedy called the “The Surrogate Court A Political Toll Booth Exacting Tribute from Widows and Orphans.”  The Democratic Party bosses tell the Surrogate Court Judges they elect to hire party supporters, a patronage operation that strengthens organization by make money for their troops. 

Surrogate Court races are more about who and whose money is behind the candidates then the person running for office.  That is because the people behind the candidates get the benefits of the office, being appointed as administrators and guardians.  Elena Baron is the only candidate in this race who is not backed by the political bosses and the money and political support they bring to their candidates’ campaigns.  In her first race Elena Baron was a grassroots candidate who was challenged by the political bosses and she won overwhelmingly, because the voters want independent judges.

Growing up in the Soviet Union Elena witnessed many injustices that effected people around her and her immediate family.  One family member was sexually harassed and had to quit her job, another family member was being pressured into diverting funds going into the organization to a real estate development project, which she refused, and her private business venture was destroyed by thugs threatening to murder family members.  These and other experiences made Elena Baron love and respect justice and the law and to become a lawyer.  Elena would be the first immigrant to be elected to the Surrogate Court. 

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The Importance of Judge Elena Baron’s Campaign – Defeating the Political Party Bosses and Unencumbered Justice

Judge Elena Baron Campaign for Surrogate Court: One Woman Against Brooklyn’s Political Bosses

 

Community and political leaders were astounded when in 2017 Elena Baron beat Brooklyn’s political bosses and won her election to become a Civil Court Judge.  Elena ran a grassroots judicial campaign winning by an overwhelming majority against three opponents in the 6th municipal court district, all backed by politicians.  Voters understood the importance of Baron’s independence from entrenched political insiders, who according to the NY Times pick almost all the judges in Brooklyn.  This year, Baron, who is running for Surrogate Court, is clearly the front runner in the race. Voters do not want to see lawyers connected to the Democratic Party looting the estates of widows, seniors and orphans in the Brooklyn Surrogate Court.  

Judge Elena Baron

In Brooklyn Heights Anne got out of her car to tell Baron, who was campaigning, how courageous she was to take on the Brooklyn Democratic Party Bosses and to run independent for judge.  In an era where the so-called progressives and reformers look the other way as the political bosses pick judges and use our courts for patronage, Baron is the leader that Brooklyn needs. 

Ann was familiar with how the Surrogate court operates because her close friend fell into a serious life-long depression after the estate of her mother was drained by administrators appointed by a Surrogate Court Judge. One of Elena’s best friends compared her campaign against the political bosses to the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, where an outsider takes on the entrenched establishment to serve the people. 

Judge Elena Baron has spent over a decade working in five NYC Courthouses with a wide variety of issues and matters that come before the civil and supreme courts.  Elena has worked with families going through guardianships, dealt with myriads of issues pertaining to residential and commercial real estate, small claims, receiverships and refereeships, as well as matters concerning credit card debt and personal injury cases.   “Judge Baron’s independence and her well-diversified experience working in NYC Courts for over a decade will make her a very effective Surrogate, able to create personalized solutions to many individual family situations that come before the Surrogate Court,”said Yana Saffian, an attorney who practices before the Surrogate Court.  Elena has a track record of being independent from the Democratic party bosses, having been elected grass roots as a Civil Court Judge.    

To enter the Surrogate Court is to stumble upon Ponce de Leon’s own spring, an eternal source of easy money for the politically wired.  The Surrogate Court Judges appoint guardians to estates who make handsome fees of those residents who die without wills.  Robert Kennedy called the “The Surrogate Court A Political Toll Booth Exacting Tribute from Widows and Orphans.”  The Democratic Party bosses tell the Surrogate Court Judges they elect to hire party supporters, a patronage operation that strengthens organization by make money for their troops. 

Surrogate Court races are more about who and whose money is behind the candidates then the person running for office.  That is because the people behind the candidates get the benefits of the office, being appointed as administrators and guardians.  Elena Baron is the only candidate in this race who is not backed by the political bosses and the money and political support they bring to their candidates’ campaigns.  In her first race Elena Baron was a grassroots candidate who was challenged by the political bosses and she won overwhelmingly, because the voters want independent judges.

Growing up in the Soviet Union Elena witnessed many injustices that effected people around her and her immediate family.  One family member was sexually harassed and had to quit her job, another family member was being pressured into diverting funds going into the organization to a real estate development project, which she refused, and her private business venture was destroyed by thugs threatening to murder family members.  These and other experiences made Elena Baron love and respect justice and the law and to become a lawyer.  Elena would be the first immigrant to be elected to the Surrogate Court. 

The current surrogate, Margarita Lopez Torres, who is backed by bosses Seddio, Carone and the party machine this year, several times appointed Adam Kalish, who works out of Brooklyn County Boss Frank Seddio’s Canarsie home and office as a guardian.   Lopez Torres is running for a second 14 years term, although she is unable to serve it, since she must retire in 2 years at 70, the mandatory retirement age for a Surrogate Court Judge.  There is also talk, despite her denials, that Torres will take a Supreme Court position after the primary which will allow her to serve until she is 76 and allow party boss Seddio to back-fill one of his hacks as a replacement for a full 14-year term. 

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