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Author Topic: Searching for Theo Kamasinski  (Read 621 times)

WithoutAPaddle

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Searching for Theo Kamasinski
« on: August 01, 2007, 01:17 AM NHFT »

I'm sure that many of you recognize him as the widely acclaimed "Court reformer" who represented the former wives of two Supreme Court Justices until one trial judge ruled that it doing so, he was violating the statutory prohibition from engagement in the common practice of law by anyone not licensed by the New Hampshire Bar Association.

In my opinion, the New Hampshire Court system has changed for the worse since he exited the scene here.  If he can be reached, I'd like to discuss it with him.  Does anyone know what he might be doing or how to contact him?
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KBCraig

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Re: Searching for Theo Kamasinski
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2007, 03:38 AM NHFT »

I'm not familiar with Theo or the cases you cite, but welcome to the Underground!

Kevin
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WithoutAPaddle

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Re: Searching for Theo Kamasinski
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2007, 03:53 PM NHFT »

I'm not familiar with Theo or the cases you cite,

Kevin

FYI, Mr. Theo Kamasinski represented Judith Thayer and Caroline Douglas in their divorces of former Supreme Court Justices Steven Thayer and Charles Douglas, respectively.  It was the handling of the Thayer divorce that triggered the events leading to the resignations of Justices Thayer and Douglas.  Each time a Superior Court ruling in the Thayer divorce was appealed to the Supreme Court, the entire court had to recuse itself and five substitute justices had to be found.  Since Thayer was still a member of the Court, he, of course, could not participate in the selection of the substitute judges, but when someone suggested a Superior Court judge named Papagianis or something like that, Justice Thayer blurted out, "Not Papagianas!" and so someone reported it to the Judicial Conduct Committee as an apparent violation of the Judicial Code of Ethics, and as far as Justice Douglas was concerned, I think that the initial complaint against him was that he had failed to report the Thayer outburst to the Judicial Conduct Committee.

There were eventually impeachment hearings regarding Justice Douglas for that and other complaints (I think that Justice Thayer had already resigned by that point) and the Union Leader used to maintain transcripts of the testimony of the witnesses on its website.   Clerk Zibel, when asked by Judge Fauver, how they might "style" a pending motion (legal parlance for classification of :petition, motion, objection, etc.), said something under oath that was hysterically funny but probably not suitable for publication here..

Anyway, from about 2000 to 2003, Mr. Kamasinski was a darling of the local press, and when any reporter wanted to punch up a story on the judiciary, like on computerization of court dockets, public access to divorce files and trust accountings, proposed reform of the Conduct Committees or his own specialty, defining what exactly a lay person could do as counsel under RSA 311:1, permitting any citizen to appear on behalf of any other citizen, that would not be in violation of the statute prohibiting the ordinary practice of law by anyone who was not a member of the bar, he could be counted on to furnish them with a cogent opinion on the matter.  But after the two presiding judges ruled that he was, in fact, violating those statues in both of the divorce cases, he simply dropped off the radar screen.

Even while he was being used as a quote machine, he was not embraced by those who used him as a source.  When I set out to meet him in 2002, I contacted every reporter I knew of who had quoted him in their articles, but not one knew how to reach him.  Then, one of them remembered receiving a fax from him and she read me the transmission number on it, so I sent a letter to that fax number and he called me in reply.  I think contacting George Peppard and Mr. T used to be easier.

Mr. Kamasinski and I had a telephone conversation during which he declined my offer for him to either represent my family in a probate matter or to assist me in doing so, citing two reasons:1) he had a full plate in front of him with the two divorce cases, and 2) he had cordial and professional relations with a lawyer who was representing one of the opposing parties.  Remarkable and ironic how fast the outsider had become an insider. 

When I asked him whether there was any prospect of my enlisting the NHCLU to aid my cause, he spoke negatively of them and said, "If you don't have an earring in your nose, they don't care about you".  I contacted them anyway, twice, and both times they went out of their way to let me know that they didn't care about me, even though they never learned that, in fact, I don't have an earring in my nose.

I know that at least one of the Superior Court Orders disqualifying Mr. Kamasinski from appearing on behalf of his client was appealed, but I never followed it to learn of its disposition.  In February of 2006, I set out to contact him, mostly for small talk, but also to see if he might now participate as shadow counsel in my mother's docket, and I again contacted everyone who might have reason to have spoken to him or had an inkling where he might be, but only one person had heard from him within the previous year when he had called her from another country, but didn't leave her a contact number.  I remember that in one article in which establishment attorneys of some stature had criticized Mr. Kamasinski, attorney Paul McEachern has said that people would miss him once he was gone.  It appears that Mr. McEachern was wrong.  I can scarcely find anyone who even remembers him.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 12:53 PM NHFT by WithoutAPaddle »
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WithoutAPaddle

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Re: Searching for Theo Kamasinski
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2019, 12:02 PM NHFT »

This thread was opened with the first post I authored here, over a decade ago.  I came here looking for the aforementioned Mr. Kamasinski, but no member indicated any knowledge of him.

I did not again find him after the one time that I had managed to speak to him in 2002, so earlier this year, I Googled him and this is all I found:

Foley Funeral Homes
Theodore Ratnoff-Kamasinski
Keene, New Hampshire
Oct 28, 1937 - Jan 19, 2015

That looks like the format for the listing by a funeral home that had been engaged by the state to cremate unclaimed remains.

I thought that Mr. Kamasinski deserved a published obituary and a postmortem, so I tried to contact his two divorce "clients", Caroline Douglas and Judith Thayer, back in February but my efforts were unsuccessful.  If anyone reading this does or did know anything of Mr Kamasinski and knows anyone who might be interested in learning of his death, then I would appreciate it if you pass this info along to them.


Mr Kamasinski was written up in The New Yorker way back the year 2000.  Here is an abstract of that article, as well as a link to to the full magazine article. 

The Judge Hater

By Jeffrey Toobin

June 4, 2000

The New Yorker, June 12, 2000 P. 49

ANNALS OF LAW about judicial gadfly Theo Kamasinski, 62, of New Hampshire...

the crisis in the New Hampshire Supreme Court, where one judge, W. Stephen Thayer III, resigned on March 31st, after the state attorney general disclosed that Thayer had attempted to intervene in the court’s handling of his own divorce. ...

Then, in a move stemming from the same case, the House of Representatives began an impeachment investigation of three of the remaining four Justices, including the Chief Justice, David Brock. A special counsel for the House judiciary committee began taking private depositions last month, and public hearings on the charges will begin in July. Because a fifth Justice retired last year, Governor Shaheen may have the chance to name an entirely new court. These extraordinary events were set in motion largely by one man—Theodore Kamasinski, who, as part of a lifelong war against what he regards as judicial corruption, represented Judge Thayer’s wife in the divorce. ...

In his post as a self-appointed reformer, Kamasinski has filed hundreds of complaints about lawyers and judges with the state bar and court authorities. By his own estimate, he files a new one every week, and he supports his complaints with detailed briefs produced on a powerful computer system...

In contrast with most states, New Hampshire allows private citizens like Kamasinski, who neither holds a law degree nor took the bar exam, to represent clients in its courts. Kamasinski has a few clients of his own, but he makes his living, such as it is, by ghostwriting briefs for actual lawyers and by making business deals—which have often ended in legal disputes... Describes the Thayer case...

Tells about Kamasinski's work in the early '70s with the Knapp Commission and Xaviera Hollander...

Tells about his subsequent stay in Europe...

Kamasinski had a characteristically eventful stay in Connecticut, where he filed a series of successful lawsuits aimed at giving the public access to judicial complaints...

Tells how Kamasinski has tapped into forces that are transforming New Hampshire and taking it from the hands of the Republican elite that has ruled it for a decade...

He intends to do for judicial corruption in other states what he has done in New Hampshire, but points out that there is still a warrant out for his arrest in New York State...

View Article;: http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=2000-06-12#folio=CV1


I remember he had also gotten written up either in the Union Leader or New Hampshire Business Review, but I didn't save the article, which a friend had sent me.

Remember the movie, Serpico?  In real life, Mr. Kamasinski had been tangentially involved in that story as the guy who made the electronic bugs that they used in the late 1960s or early 1970s.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 11:51 AM NHFT by WithoutAPaddle »
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