Joseph P. Secola
Connecticut Probate Judge. Ret.
President, Greater Danbury Bar Association, 2012-2013
- Probate Law
- Estate Planning & Elder law
- Wills and Trusts Law
- Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice
LL.M. Degree: Master of Laws in Estate Planning & Elder Law,
Western New England University School Of Law
Juris Doctor Degree (Rank:
Third) O.W. Coburn School of Law
Bachelor of Arts in History (Honors Diploma; Phi Alpha Theta) Fairfield University
State Courts: Connecticut (1984); New
York (1985); and Virginia (1986)
Federal District Courts: District of
Connecticut (1985); Southern District of New York (1988); Western District of New York (1996)
Federal Appellate Courts: U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Second Circuit (1989)
U.S. Supreme Court: (1990)
- Appeared with the argument team before the U.S. Supreme Court on October 16, 1996, in a winning First Amendment case, entitled
Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network, 519 U.S. 357, 137 L.Ed. 2d 1 (1997).
- Attended and argued before Connecticut Supreme Court March 19, 1996, in a winning administrative law case involving the Due
Process of Law, entitled Dolgner v. Alander, 676 A.2d 865, 237 Conn. 272 (Conn. 1996).
- Attended and argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in NYC, in several winning cases. See
- Won 2007 jury verdict in a car crash case - Groccia v. Lederer - Verdict of $580,000 ($80,000 economic and
$500,000 non-economic) for middle-aged mother - New Haven Jury verdict featured in May 21, 2007 Connecticut Law Tribune, in Verdicts and Settlements section.
- Won 2005 Jury Verdicts in a car crash case - Bolonos v. Curry - Danbury Verdicts of (1) $255,000 ($5,000
economic and $250,000 non-economic damages awarded) for college-age daughter and (2) $79,000 ($4,000 economic and $75,000 economic damages awarded) for middle-aged mother.
- Won 1999 Jury Verdict in a car crash case - Riley v. Nordic Products, Inc. - Meriden Verdict of $168,000 ($35,000
economic and $133,000 non-economic damages awarded) for middle-aged man.
- Settled cases of note - medmal case of young girl settled for $690,000; wrongful death medmal case of teenage male settled
for 1.5 million; 30 year-old male in truck-car accident with permanent injuries settled for 1.2 million.
Judge of Probate, District of Brookfield
- Presided over Trust and Decedent Estates proceedings, including probating wills and the administration of estates, overseeing testamentary and living trusts, determining title to real and personal property, construing the meaning of wills and trusts.
- Presided over Guardian, Conservator and Civil Commitment proceedings, including appointing guardians for persons who are mentally disabled, approving placements of persons who are mentally disabled, appointing a guardian of the estate or person for a child, for persons with mental illness and/or for persons who are incapable of managing or administering their own affairs, appointing
conservators of the person and the estate, committing those suffering from severe mental illness to an
- Presided over proceedings involving Parents and Children, including removing unfit parents as guardians of their children, hearing the claims of paternity of unwed fathers, terminating the parental rights of parents who cannot fulfill their parental responsibilities, granting adoptions.
Private Practice: Trial Lawyer
Other Legal Experience
- Thorough understanding of all aspects of probate court practice.
- Probate wills and represent and advise executors and administrators of estates.
- Prepare and draft diverse trusts, including revocable intervivos trusts, irrevocable trusts, and life insurance trusts.
- Prepare and draft complex wills, conforming provisions to meet the individual needs of clients.
- Advise clients concerning trust and estate planning.
- Interpret laws, rulings and regulations for individuals and businesses.
- Thorough understanding and experience in civil trials and appeals in both state and federal courts.
- Analyze the probable outcomes of cases, using knowledge of legal precedents.
- Represent clients in court, mainly on the plaintiff’s side.
- Examine legal data to determine advisability of defending or prosecuting lawsuit.
- Select jurors, argue motions, meet with judges and question witnesses during the course of a trial.
- Negotiate settlements of civil and probate disputes.
- Summer Clerkship for the Honorable Tomas R. Brett, U.S. District Judge, U.S. District Court, Tulsa, Oklahoma, summer 1983
Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Who's Who in American Law, Millennium Edition §2000-2001
Strathmore's Who's Who §1999-2000
Lifetime Member, National Registry of Who's Who §1999
Who's Who for Connecticut §1993
Who's Who for American Law Students §1984
Law Review Invitee §1983-1984
Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association
Connecticut Bar Association
Greater Danbury Bar Association
Member, Knights of Columbus § 1992-Present
Member, Board of Education for the Greater Danbury
Catholic Elementary Schools § 1992-1996
Member, City of Milford Board of Education § 1989-1990
Sponsor, Several Little League Baseball and Pop Warner football teams
- Published Probate Court opinion in the Estate of Charlene E. Kreinus, 17 Quinnipiac Prob. L.J. 9 (2003)
- Published Law Review Article, "The Judicial Review of John Marshall and Its Subsequent Development in American Jurisprudence",
which appears in Restoring the Constitution: 1787-1987 (Probe Books, 1987), 9 Bridgeport Law Review 11 (1988) and 18 Lincoln Law Review 1 (1988)
- State v. Reddy, 135 Conn. App. 65 (Conn.
App. 2012) (JPS won appeal reversing the seizure of the firearms of a gunowner.
- New Milford Sav. Bank v. Mulville,258
Conn. 802, 786 A.2d 1090 (Conn. 2001) (JPS obtained a judgment of foreclosure by sale in the trial court and successfully defended the appeal in both the Appellate Court and Connecticut Supreme
- People of State of NY by Vacco v. Operation Rescue Nat., 80 F.3d 64
(2nd Cir. (N.Y.) 1996) (JPS won an appeal and Second Circuit Court vacated judgment of damages and attorneys' fees).
- Dolgner v. Alander, 676 A.2d 865, 237 Conn. 272 (Conn. 1996) (JPS
won appeal and Connecticut Supreme Court reversed agency action and restored license of JPS's client).
- New Milford Savings Bank v. Roina, 659 A.2d 1226, 38 Conn. App. 240
(Conn. App. 1995) (JPS won summary judgment for plaintiff bank in trial court defeating lender liability counterclaim and successfully defending the appeal in the Connecticut Appellate
- Asset Recovery Management Co. v. Tarzia, 1995 WL 16797, 1995 WL
17181 (Conn. Super. 1995) (JPS won trial and obtained permanent injunction for plaintiff corporation enjoining interference with marketing of real estate).
- Pro-Choice Network v. Schenck, 519 U.S. 357, 117 S.Ct. 855, 137
L.Ed.2d 1, (U.S. 1997) (JPS won initial appeal before panel on First Amendment grounds (67 F.3d 359 (2d Cir. 1994); after en banc review, the original panel decision was vacated, 67 F3d 377
(2nd Cir. (N.Y.) 1995]; JPS petitioned (1995 WL 17013687) the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted the petition (516 U.S. 1170, 116 S.Ct. 1260 (Mem) (U.S., 1996) and reversed the en banc panel by an
eight to one vote, striking down portions of the injunction as violations of free speech clause of the first amendment.
- New York State National Organization for Women v. Terry, 41 F.3d 794 (2nd Cir. (N.Y.) 1994)
(JPS won an appeal reversing contempt fines and attorneys' fees; JPS had appealed twice in this case to the U.S. Supreme Court; The U.S. Supreme Court had granted JPS two petitions and had vacated
the Second Circuit Court twice, and the Second Circuit Court finally reversed and vacated the contempt fines and attorneys' fees).
- Melief v. New Milford Savings Bank, 1996 WL 168011 (Conn. Super.
1996) (JPS won summary judgment for the defendant bank defeating lender liability claims).
- New Milford Savings Bank v. Melief, 1994 WL 174725 (Conn. Super.
1994), affirmed, 659 A.2d 1232, 38 Conn. App. 906 (Conn. App. 1995), cert. denied, 665 A.2d 902, 235 Conn. 910 (Conn. 1995) (JPS won the trial for a deficiency judgment for the plaintiff bank and
successfully defended the judgment in both the Appellate and Supreme Courts of CT).
- New Milford Savings Bank v. Zukov, 1993 WL 544768 (Conn. Super.
1993) (JPS won trial court ruling for plaintiff bank which struck the lender liability counterclaim from the jury docket).
- Kagan v. Ginsburg, 622 A.2d 1030, 30 Conn. App. 794 (Conn. App.
1993) (JPS won appeal; Appellate Court reversed trial court dismissal of plaintiff's claims).
- K.W. Dolmar Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Matar, 1992 WL 188915 (Conn.
Super. 1992), affirmed, 632 A.2d 720, 32 Conn. App. 906 (Conn. App. 1993) (JPS won trial and obtained injunction and damages for intentional interference with business relations; JPS successfully
defended the appeal in the CT Appellate Court).
- Town of West Hartford v. Operation Rescue, 991 F.2d 1039 (2nd Cir.
(Conn.) 1993) (JPS won appeal; Second Circuit Court vacated preliminary injunction).
- Town of West Hartford v. Operation Rescue, 915 F.2d 92 (2nd Cir.
(Conn.) 1990) (JPS won appeal; Second Circuit Court vacated preliminary injunction and ordered dismissal of Town's civil RICO action).