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Constance Starks, the long-time register of wills in the District, retired last week after 18 years as head of the probate division of the D.C. Superior Court. Starks steered the division through a time of increased scrutiny after an investigation by The Washington Post in 2003 found more than two dozen cases where court-appointed guardians had mishandled their clients’ estates and more than 200 instances where attorneys were assigned new cases even after they had been disciplined in previous ones. The subsequent investigation led to an overhaul in the way the court appoints guardians and increased monitoring after an attorney is assigned. Judge Jose Lopez, the presiding judge of the probate division, likens Starks to a mother who kept the division in line. He says that the overhaul of the division was a testament to her ability to confront criticism. “It was hard work, but we pushed and she pushed and we made it work,” he says. The court is accepting applications for Starks’ replacement until June 9. Starks was unavailable for comment.
Bethany Broida can be contacted at [email protected].

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