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  Private Shingle On A Public Court [CT judge]
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Last EditedChronicler  Mar 01, 2008 11:58am
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News DateSaturday, March 1, 2008 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionPORTLAND — On paper, it looked like Richard Guliani was running a legitimate law practice from his home. But when clients called the number on his letterhead, the phone rang at town hall, inside the probate court where he was also judge.

By hanging his shingle outside the Probate Court in Portland, Guliani cut overhead costs like lights and phones, letting taxpayers foot the bill. The court also served as an intake point for his law firm. Anyone stumbling into town hall with an inheritance question was a potential client.

The judge stepped down last year, after 16 years in office, but only now are his conflicting roles coming to light. The Statewide Grievance Committee suspended Guliani's law license last year for representing clients who appeared in his courtroom. This week, the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct voted to censure him, the harshest punishment possible short of impeachment.

His law career tarnished, Guliani, 55, has taken refuge on the stage. While the probate council listened to testimony about his misconduct this week, the former judge was in New York City, acting. He has sung and acted in many community theater productions, even directing the jury-room drama, "12 Angry Men."

Despite dozens of formal complaints, Guliani managed to win four elections and run circles around three probate administrators who tried to make him follow the rules. He also weathered two reprimands from the probate council, which disciplines judges. The two entities charged with making sure judges perform their jobs fairly and competently — the probate administrator and the probate council — failed to catch up with Guliani while it still mattered.
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