As part of a statewide effort to trim the number of probate courts, Plainville’s court is likely to merge with Bristol’s beginning in 2011.
City councilors this week agreed to the proposal, which won’t cost taxpayers anything.
City Probate Judge Andre Dorval said the newly combined courts will continue much as always.
What will be different, he said, is that he will likely drop his part-time private law practice and treat the combined posts as full-time. Dorval said he would seek election as probate judge for both towns.
Mayor Art Ward said Plainville requested that it be allowed to combine its probate court with Bristol’s. It plans to give its formal approval of the deal next week, the mayor said.
City Councilor Kevin McCauley asked if Dorval could handle both towns.
“I would be able to serve both the courts,” Dorval said.
The state is eyeing the consolidation of probate courts in order to increase the likelihood that quality judges would handle cases rather than small town politicians who may not have much idea what they are doing.
Dorval said that smaller towns such as Plainville are taking steps to consolidate with the courts of their choosing rather than waiting for state orders to combine particular jurisdictions.
The move sought by Bristol and Plainville will need the approval of the state before it becomes final.
It would not take effect until the expiration of the current term of Plainville’s longtime probate judge, Heidi Famiglietti.
Dorval said his initial thought is to leave Plainville’s court open and to travel there for hearings. But if Plainville ever wants the space back in its Municipal Center, he said, the arrangement might change.
Plainville would pay a pro-rated share of the cost of the joint court, Dorval said.
It would not cost either town more money to combine the courts, Dorval said.
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