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Remarks of Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers
at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Judge Paul Knierim as Probate Court Administrator
October 1, 2008

 

I am delighted to be here today to swear in Judge Paul Knierim as the stateís probate court administrator. As you know, he follows a long line of distinguished probate court administrators, starting with his father, Judge Glenn Knierim, who, I am certain, provided his son, early on, with a birdís-eye view of the probate court system.

I met Paul Knierim many years ago. On a personal level, I can tell you that he is one of the brightest and nicest individuals that I have had the pleasure of meeting. But that is not why I chose him to be probate court administrator. I chose Judge Knierim because I believe that he has the initiative and the energy that is needed to lead our probate courts. Judge Knierim is a consensus-builder who has the ability to bring together many disparate views.

 

Judge Knierimís professional background will be a tremendous asset as he forges this consensus. As a lawyer with the firms of Cummings & Lockwood and Drew, Mersereau & Knierim, he specialized in the areas of estate planning and probate. Judge Knierim gained a thorough knowledge of the legislative process and the art of compromise as a state representative from 1991 - 1997 and as an assistant minority leader from 1995 - 1997. Finally, I have to mention that Judge Knierim served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Ellen A. Peters from 1989 to 1990. I know that Justice Peters valued his work because she is here at the ceremony today. Justice Peters, would you please rise to be recognized? All of these experiences make Judge Knierim the ideal choice to lead the probate courts during this difficult time in its long history.

I would be remiss if I did not at this point thank Judge James Lawlor for all the work he has done. His achievements include: the implementation of the nationally-recognized regional childrenís courts, improving the training for probate judges and staff, and enhancements in technology. As important, Judge Lawlor recognized the challenges that face the probate courts and set in motion the dialogue that will be necessary to meet these challenges.

I donít think anyone would disagree that the probate courts are indeed facing difficult challenges. By 2010, the probate court system will be bankrupt if the issues are not squarely faced. In addressing this financial crisis, we must remember that everyoneís overarching goal should be to continue what our probate courts do best -- that is to provide the best services possible to those individuals going through the most difficult personal trials that an individual might face.

The history of our probate system is a history of compassion meted out by neighborhood courts that care for the people in the community. To keep doing this, the financial crisis must be addressed and that will mean change.

I have no doubt that Judge Knierim, with your assistance, will change what needs to be changed and will preserve those positive qualities that are the hallmark of our probate courts. This will not be a painless process, I am sure. But, I have confidence in the ability of both Judge Knierim and all of our other committed probate court judges to bring about the changes that are necessary.


 

 

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