As the Aug. 21 special election for judge of the Greater Windsor Probate Court approaches, the three probate judges who have kept the court operating for the last six months are concluding their volunteer service.
Since the death of Probate Judge Brian Griffin on Feb. 20, 2012, Probate Judge Claire C. Twerdy of the Tolland-Mansfield court has overseen administrative matters at the court in South Windsor, while judges Timothy R. Keeney of the North Central Connecticut court and O. James Purnell III of the Ellington court have conducted hearings and handled the pending cases.
From March through mid-August, the court processed more than 550 matters in East Windsor, South Windsor and Windsor, including probating wills and administering estates, appointing conservators and guardians and granting adoptions.
Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim thanked the judges for their service. “The willingness of these three judges to take on additional responsibilities for no compensation speaks volumes about their dedication to public service,” Judge Knierim said. “Thanks to them, the Greater Windsor court has been able to process its cases without interruption.”
The judges said they appreciated the opportunity to serve and the exposure to new challenges.
Judge Keeney, noting that his mentor during his early days on the bench was Judge Griffin, said, “It was a special honor for me to step in and help out in a court that needed assistance. Professionally, the assignment broadened my experience because it allowed me to work with a more diverse population with most interesting and unique issues.”
“It was a tremendous opportunity to cover the court and help it move forward,” Judge Purnell said. “It shows the amount of support we have within the Probate Court system to help each other when a need arises.”
Judge Twerdy commended her colleagues for their handling of courtroom matters. “Both Judge Purnell and Judge Keeney did a spectacular job,” she said. “I also give credit to Chief Clerk Annette Tarascio for her experience and dedication, and for being the glue that held the court together. She gave 200 percent to her duties.”
Judge Knierim also praised the efforts of Tarascio and her staff. “The court clerks have worked very hard to keep the court running smoothly,” he said. “Even after losing their friend and leader, they have kept their focus on our core mission of assisting those who need the services of the court.”
Four candidates are vying to become the new judge of the Greater Windsor Probate Court. The winner of the Aug. 21 special election will begin serving after being sworn in and completing a training course for new judges, which the Probate Court Administrator’s Office has scheduled for Aug. 27.