21st District Probate Judge gets law license reinstated

Republican Probate Judge Peter Mariano speaks with Kathleen Donovan of Naugatuck on in May during the 21st Probate District Democratic nominating convention at Shepardson Community Center in Middlebury. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — 21st District Probate Judge Peter Mariano had his law license reinstated on Oct. 26 after about a year of it being inactive.

The district encompasses Naugatuck, Prospect, Beacon Falls and Middlebury. Probate courts oversee decedents’ estates and trusts, and handle a wide range of issues affecting children, the elderly, and people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities.

Mariano, 62, of Naugatuck, was sentenced May 9 after he pleaded guilty to two counts of operating under the influence as a first offender and class B misdemeanor reckless endangerment on charges from last year. He served four days in jail earlier this year.

Before Mariano was sentenced and afterward, he was allowed to continue being probate judge because Mariano was grandfathered to a time when having a law license was not a requirement of being probate judge.

“I’m delighted that I have the law license back,” Mariano said. “I practiced law for 37 years and I’ve had an unblemished record in the practice law and as probate judge.”

Mariano said his law license will be effective as of Nov. 3.

Mariano’s friends — borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick, attorney Carlos Santos, Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, state Rep. David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, and attorney Kevin H. McSherry — sent a letter, last year, to Judge Salvatore C. Agati at Waterbury Superior Court asking the judge to suspend Mariano’s law license so he could get treatment as he previously struggled with alcohol before he was charged.

His same friends recently sent another letter asking for his law license to be reinstated several months ago to Salvatore.

“The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel has received from the respondent, Peter E. Mariano, statements and documentation that disability referenced in count one of the amended presentment is being managed and the attorney is fit to presume the practice of law,” according to Waterbury Superior Court documents from Judge W. Glen Pierson.

Mariano said he submitted a certified copy of the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct findings from July, during his reinstatement of his law license.

No one testified against Mariano during his reinstatement, he added.

“There is not a record of complaints about his competence, integrity, demeanor or attention to his duties during that tenure,” according to the findings of the council on probate judicial conduct

“As a result, at the time of this public hearing Judge Mariano has been performing his duties in the Naugatuck Probate Court for more than seven months. The fact that he has performed his court responsibilities without negative incident and demonstrated a commitment to sobriety for that length of time is a credit to him,” the council on probate judicial conduct also stated in its findings.

Mariano previously asked for leave to address his alcohol issues where he received treatment soon after he was charged late last year.

For the past year, Mariano said he has conducted all of his probate hearings as the judge and his top priority has been being the judge and he’s recovering.

“My commitment was to my sobriety and my judgeship,” Mariano said.

Mariano, who is nearing the end of his fifth four-year term and has run unopposed for 16 years, is seeking reelection in the Nov. 8 election as he faces against state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas.

Mariano said his past borough firm where he was a partner, Fitzpatrick Santos Sousa Perugini, has asked him to return to practice law. He plans to return to the firm and looks to return to the probate judge seat as well.