PRIMARY IS TUESDAY: Democrats vying to lead ‘the people’s court’

William Rivera and Robert Scalise are vying for the Democratic Party nomination in the race to become Berlin-New Britain's next probate judge. A primary will be held Tuesday, Sept. 14 to determine which local attorney will appear on the November ballot.

Rivera earned the endorsement of the Democratic Party at its nomination convention in July, but Scalise received enough votes from delegates to force a primary.

Scalise believes his experience and temperament would serve him well as probate judge.

“I have been practicing Probate Estate Planning and Elder Law for over 30 years and I feel that I’ve dealt with that process from the standpoint of representing individuals and families and feel like it will translate well into sitting in front of these families and individuals as a judge and helping them through the probate process,” he said.

“My experience is important. You want a probate judge who understands the legal process but also has the empathy to help people through the, often, most difficult stage of their lives.”

In announcing his own candidacy for probate judge, Rivera said “the law is my passion. I seek this next level of my career because it allows me to continue to work with all types of issues and people who are often overlooked in our society. The job will be challenging and rewarding.”

Connecticut has 54 probate courts, organized on a regional basis. The website states, "The Probate Courts have often been called 'the people's courts' because they offer simple, direct access to legal proceedings. Convenience and efficiency are the hallmarks of the Probate Courts.”

“I think that the most challenging part of the probate court job is that you are dealing with people who are under a great deal of stress and distress,” Scalise noted. “You are either dealing with the family member’s death, their incapacity, or sometimes their mental health issues and I really feel like you have to come in with the understanding of the people that are before you and have as much compassion as you have knowledge.”


Berlin-New Britain's current probate judge, Walter A. Clebowicz, turns 70 in October – the state’s mandatory age of retirement for judges.

Connecticut is a closed primary state, meaning only registered Democrats can vote Tuesday, Sept. 14. 

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