Residents of 12 towns in the northwest corner of the state will be asked this fall to elect one probate judge to oversee an area now covered by four separate judges.

With 11 years of experience on the probate bench, Judge Patrick J. Wall -- now probate judge in Harwinton -- is running for the position as a Republican for the newly formed Litchfield Hills probate district.

Judge Wall has been endorsed by the Republican Town Committees in all 12 towns in the district. Kent's RTC endorsed him in early April as Warren's GOP previously had.

Judge Wall, 58, is funding his own campaign for the seat, feeling that by not accepting campaign contributions, he can maintain the integrity of the position.

"It's a job that I love," Judge Wall said. "I feel so comfortable in the courtroom atmosphere. I went into courts as a young man. I worked in the court system as a law student."

"I am the fourth generation member of my family to serve as a judge," he noted. "My mother, as well as my father, were judges."

A founding member of the Connecticut Judge's Association for Local Probate Courts, Judge Wall also serves on Litchfield County's Executive Committee of the Probate Assembly and on the five-member Council on Probate Judicial Conduct.

He has served as probate judge in Harwinton since 1999.

In private law practice as an attorney, if elected he would drop that practice while holding the office of judge in the Litchfield Hills District, he said.

Judge Wall plans to hold court at each of the individual towns in the newly formed district on an as-needed basis similar to the half-day services now provided in Kent in a room at Town Hall. Probate offices will continue to be located in Litchfield and North Canaan.

The full complement of court clerks from the present four courts to be incorporated in the new district are being kept on. Much probate court interaction for residents will soon be able to be completed by computer.

The Litchfield Hills Probate District will be comprised of Kent, Warren, Canaan, Cornwall, Harwinton, Litchfield, Morris, Norfolk, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon and Thomaston.