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Arroyo returns to Probate office

Court’s report finds employees worked to undermine his admin.

Yawu Miller | 10/18/2017, 10:22 a.m.
Suffolk County Register of Probate Félix D. Arroyo is back at work after an investigation found he was undermined by ...
Suffolk County Register of Probate Félix D. Arroyo returned to work two weeks ago. Banner photo

Suffolk County Register of Probate Félix D. Arroyo is back at work after an investigation found he was undermined by longtime court staff who bristled at his efforts to diversify his office and better serve its largely non-English speaking clientele.

Arroyo was suspended in February by Massachusetts Trial Court administrators, who alleged Arroyo mismanaged the office.

Trial Court administrators tapped former Trial Court Judge Anthony Nesi to conduct the investigation. While Nesi issued the report in April, the Trial Court has not made the report public. The Boston Globe obtained a copy of the report and quoted from it Monday.

According to the Globe report, Nesi concluded that staff showed a lack of respect for Arroyo based on his ethnicity as a Puerto Rican and his lack of knowledge of the Probate Court.

“This lack of respect for him limited his ability to produce results,” the Globe quoted Nesi’s report.

A spokesman for Arroyo said the register remains concerned about what he said are ongoing problems related to racism in the Trial Court.

“Félix is back doing the job he was elected to do at the Registry of Probate and Family Court, and we’re happy about that,” said spokesman Patrick Keaney. “The reality is, however, that while the institutional racism that he experienced has been exposed, it has not been eradicated. There is more work to be done.”

Arroyo was elected Register in 2014, after the previous administrator, Patricia Campatelli was suspended for misconduct, including striking an employee. Arroyo inherited an office with a well-documented history of mismanagement. Nesi’s report found that Arroyo did little to improve the functioning of the court. But Arroyo supporters have argued that he has been undermined in his efforts to bring reform to the court and that Trial Court administrators denied him funding to hire senior staff.

Former Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence instead brought in Terri Klug Cafazzo, who issued a report finding that Arroyo mismanaged the court. Cafazzo was then appointed to acting register of the probate while Arroyo was placed on paid suspension.

After his suspension in February, Arroyo fired back at the Trial Court, alleging a pattern of discriminatory conduct in his office and in the Trial Court itself. After Arroyo made public his allegations, the United States Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into allegations of discrimination in the Trial Court. That investigation is ongoing.

Arroyo returned to work two weeks ago.