Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme has immense responsibilities, as a sitting judge of probate for nine towns in eastern Connecticut. Not only is he the judicial officer who determines the validity of Wills for probate in these towns, he also has many other judicial tasks that are unrelated to probating Wills.
The responsibilities of Judge Lomme not related to Wills include: 1) appointing guardians for persons with intellectual disabilities, 2) approving sterilization and placement of persons with intellectual disabilities, and 3) appointing conservators for persons found incapable of caring for themselves.
Also, Judge Lomme has the power to: 1) remove unfit parents as guardians of their children, 2) hear claims of paternity of unwed fathers, 3) terminate the parental rights of parents, who cannot fulfill their parental responsibilities, and 4) grant adoptions.
In addition, Judge Lomme is empowered to: 1) grant changes of name, 2) approve or disapprove the marriage of persons under the age of 16, and 3) assist persons in obtaining passports, which he usually refers to U.S. Post Office down the street.
Also, in cases of deceased persons, who died without a Will, Judge Lomme is charged with the responsibility of apportioning the assets of the deceased in accordance with statutory requirements.
The nine towns in Judge Lomme’s judicial district
The nine towns in Judge Lomme’s judicial district are: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook, and his suite of offices are located on the second floor of the Town Hall of Old Saybrook.
To assist him in exercising his judicial responsibilities, Judge Lomme has a staff of nine, lead by his Chief Clerk, Valerie Shickel. To adjudicate the matters under his jurisdiction, Judge Lomme says that he holds on average from 15 to 20 hearings a week. Hearings are held in a room across the hall from his main suite of offices, and they are open to the public. In conducting the hearings Judge Lomme wears a suit and not a judge’s robe.
In many cases there are fees involved, when a party appears before Judge Lomme, most especially in probate matters. In some cases these fees can run into thousands of dollars. These fees are paid with the application regardless of whether there is a hearing. Usually the fees in matters involving Wills are covered by taking the money from the estate of the deceased. Also, the monies collected, obviously, go to the state and not to the judge.
The annual salary of Judge Lomme as a Judge of Probate is $110,000 a year.
The qualifications of Judge of Probate Lomme
Judge Lomme brings an extensive background to the position of Judge of Probate. Elected in 2010, Judge Lomme has over thirty years of experience in practicing law. He also holds a Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University, and he is a graduate of Eastern Connecticut College.
When characterizing his present position as a Judge of Probate over nine towns in Connecticut, Judge Lomme says, “I have a pretty full plate.”
Even though judges of the Superior Court, the Appellate Courts and the Supreme Court of the state are prohibited from practicing law for private clients, this is not the case for the state’s Judges of Probate.
Because of his very full plate as a Judge of Probate, even though he knew that he could continue to practice law, Judge Loome has radically reduced his private law practice. He has resigned as a partner of his law firm and now holds the less demanding position as Of Counsel. Also, he has reduced the number of clients that he has at his firm, from 150 to 10, according to the judge.
Representing a “high profile” client in Essex
Judge Lomme is presently representing a “high profile” private client in the Town of Essex. The client, a New York City developer, is seeking to develop 11 acres of land on Foxboro Point. Foxboro Point is considered one of the most beautiful areas in Essex, and the Judge’s client is seeking to build seven new homes on a parcel, which is located directly on North Cove of the Connecticut River.In his capacity as a private lawyer representing the developer, Judge Lomme to date has appeared at public hearings of both the Essex Inland Waterways and Watercourses Commission and the Essex Planning Commission.
The Inland Waterways Commission held that the developer’s plans were outside its jurisdiction. However, there could be opposition to the Foxboro Point development at the Planning Commission hearing, coming up on March 8. Should this opposition occur, most likely, Judge Lomme as private counsel would seek to refute it.
Judge Lomme will also accompany the developer’s Civil Engineer, Joe Wren, as he conducts a “site walk” for the members of the Planning Commission on March 3, as Wren did previously for the members of the Inland Wetlands Commission.
Judge Lomme characterizes his assignment for the private developer at Foxboro Point as “zoning work.” As such he deems it totally appropriate for a Judge of Probate to assume a private counsel’s role. Also he says that this kind of work “works out well, because I can do it nights and weekends.”
Stating that he has “a heightened sensitivity to conflicts,” Judge Lomme says that he would recuse himself, if a member of the Essex Planning Commission came before his court during the Foxboro Point development’s approval process. He also says he would expect a member of the Planning Commission to do the same, and not vote on the Foxboro Point project, if they had a case before his court.
Some observers feel that it is only a question of time before Judges of Probate will no longer be permitted to practice in law for private clients, in addition to their official judicial duties. However, for the present it is permissible under the law. In fact, Judge Lomme estimates that as many as 80% of the Judges of Probate in the state represent private clients in addition to their judicial duties.