The Probate Court: Sharon Wicks Dornfeld

Suppose you are a grandparent who finds yourself caring full-time for your grandchildren.  Or perhaps you are the parent of an intellectually disabled child who is approaching the age of 18 but will be unable to care for him or herself.  What if your adult child or sibling is a danger to him/herself or others because of a psychiatric disability or substance abuse problem?  Maybe you would like to adopt your stepchild.  What if your elderly parent can no longer manage his or her own affairs?  Where do you turn?

Most people think of the Probate Court only in the context of wills and estates.  Decedents’ estates do make up about half of probate court business, but the other half consists of cases like those involving deeply personal matters brought out of concern for loved ones.

I am the Democratic candidate for Judge of Probate for the Northern Fairfield Probate District, comprised of Ridgefield, Redding, Newtown and Bethel.  Like my opponent, I meet all of the legal requirements to be a candidate:  I am a lawyer, I am an elector living in the district, and I am under the age of 70.  So why vote for me?

I have devoted my legal career to caring for people.  For more than 30 years, I have practiced in the Connecticut Probate, Superior, Appellate and Supreme courts.  In nearly every case, I became involved because a judge had confidence in me and appointed me to serve as an agent of the court.  I have represented hundreds and hundreds of children in guardianship, custody, neglect, abuse, termination of parental rights and adoption matters.  I have served as Conservator for elderly, disabled, and mentally ill people, and as a fiduciary of trusts and estates.  Because I actually do the work, I have a very clear perspective on what needs to be done, how it should be done, and how I would want to be treated if the case involved me or someone I loved.

I’ve also actively served our community as Town Meeting Moderator and Parking Appeals Hearing Officer, and as a member of the Ridgefield Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission and Elderly Tax Credit Committee.  I’ve held leadership positions with Ridgefield A Better Chance, the Regional YMCA, Appalachia Service Project, National Charity League, PTAs, and Girl Scouts.

My colleagues recognize and respect my expertise.  They have elected me President of the Greater Danbury Bar Association and Chair of the Family Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.  I am frequently asked to train other lawyers and judges and was assigned to review ethical complaints against lawyers for more than twelve years.  I have been honored for my pro bono work.

As a lawyer, I have tried to conduct my practice as a service.  Becoming a judge would be the ultimate opportunity for service.  I would be honored to have your vote and to serve as your Judge of Probate.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.