New Milford probate judge will continue to serve following assault arrest
Updated 5:01 pm, Thursday, August 11, 2016
Members of the community a local probate judge serves are still in shock following his recent arrest on charges of strangulation and disorderly conduct.
Housatonic Probate Court Judge Martin Landgrebe turned himself into New Milford Police on Aug. 9 following a fight with a woman the day before, according to court documents. He appeared in Waterbury Superior Court on Wednesday. The case has since been referred to a family relations officer.
Judge Paul Knierim, the state’s probate court administrator, released a statement Thursday announcing Landgrebe will continue as the judge in the Housatonic district, which includes Bridgewater, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman.
“There has been no finding of wrongdoing at this point, and Judge Landgrebe is continuing to perform his duties,” Knierim said in the statement. “This office does not have authority to suspend an elected judge but will arrange for another probate judge to handle the business of the court if Judge Landgrebe is unable.”
The arrest surprised many local officials who have known the judge for years.
“It doesn’t appear to be in character,” said Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read. “I think he’s a very friendly, likeable person, and seems to be very popular.”
Court documents state that the woman and Landgrebe were drinking together at a local establishment and the fight began after he brought the woman to her home. The woman told police that Landgrebe pinned her down in the grass behind the home by holding her throat. Landgrebe told officers he was defending himself. Both had scratches and the woman had a large abrasion on her neck.
Landgrebe, who has presided over the Housatonic Probate Court since it was formed in January 2011, could not be reached for comment.
He previously served in the New Milford/Bridgewater probate district for 12 years before he was elected to the Housatonic district in 2010.
Read, who called some of the details in the case “fishy,” was one of many officials who cautioned that people should wait for more information before jumping to conclusions about Landgrebe.
“I hope it comes out that Marty is completely innocent,” Read said. “I think people shouldn’t speculate on anything at this point and let the law do its job.”
New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman, another longtime acquaintance of Landgrebe, echoed that sentiment.
“I think we have to wait and see how things play out,” she said.
Brookfield Selectman Marty Flynn said he has known Landgrebe for about 15 years and that the judge has frequently attended Republican and Brookfield events. He said Landgrebe has always been accessible to both political parties and involved in the communities that make up his judicial district.
He said, as a selectman and chair of various commissions, he regularly interacts with attorneys and those he’s spoken with, Flynn said, describe Landgrebe describe him as a mild-mannered guy who was fair and even-handed on the bench.
“I’ve never met anyone who has a bad thing to say about him in all of my years doing it,” Flynn said. He also urged people wait for the facts before passing judgment.
Matt Grimes, an attorney and former chairman of Brookfield’s Republican party, described Landgrebe as someone very dedicated to the community and his family. He added Landgrebe, who he has known for about 20 years, has a high level of integrity and compassion, which was always exhibited in court.
“I don’t think I have ever once seen him get aggressive or yell from the bench,” Grimes said.
He said he was shocked Landgrebe was arrested.
“It certainly is not the Marty Landgrebe I or anyone else knows,” Grimes said.
Others shared similar thoughts in a New Milford Facebook group. Many in the group shared positive interactions they had with Landgrebe, while others have condemned his actions.