She says his allegedly retaliatory schedule change led to her loss of a grandchild's custody.
|York County probate judge Robert Nadeau|
Renee LeGrand of Effingham, New Hampshire, filed the civil action against York County Judge of Probate Robert Nadeau on Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred. LeGrand wants the court to undo changes Nadeau made to his hearing schedule this summer, saying the changes resulted in delays that caused her to lose temporary guardianship of her granddaughter. York County, which pays Nadeau’s salary, is named in the suit as a party of interest.
Though LeGrand is the only plaintiff named in the lawsuit, her attorneys, in court documents, indicate that other parties affected by Nadeau’s changes to the hearing schedule could join her in a class-action suit.
“We are seeking an order to have Judge Nadeau restore the schedule to what it was before April 15,” said Portland attorney Robert Mittel, who is representing LeGrand.
Mittel said his client does not want to speak to the media.
The civil suit filed by Mittel and attorney Temma Donahue of Portland, who has been representing LeGrand in the guardianship fight with the girl’s mother, allege that Nadeau harmed LeGrand and other plaintiffs by “revamping his schedule in order to delay critical and non-critical court matters by many months, causing constitutional, financial and emotional injury to LeGrand and the other class members.”
LeGrand’s suit also alleges that Nadeau, who was elected to a four-year term in 2012, changed his schedule “to retaliate” against York County commissioners for refusing to substantially increase his salary.
The lawsuit states that on April 15, 2015, the county commissioners considered Nadeau’s request to increase his court schedule from two days a week to three or five days a week and to raise his salary to $90,000 or $120,000 from his former salary of $48,498.
Commissioners declined to increase court days, but did grant him a raise, upping his salary to $54,206. Nadeau immediately changed his court hearing schedule, which the suit alleges caused case delays of several months.
Nadeau reacted to the lawsuit Wednesday night in a telephone interview and through an email.
He said York County needs to allocate more time for cases to be heard. Nadeau said he adopted a new court hearing schedule which dedicates one entire week per month to trials. That system, he believes, has proven to be more effective.
If he can’t hear a case, he has the ability to appoint a referee – typically a probate judge from another county – to hear a case.
He said that in recent years certain types of probate court cases, especially guardianship disputes involving parents, have become far more complex and time-consuming to preside over.
“When a case is contested I need time on the docket for each side to present their witnesses,” he said. “I’ve done the best I can with limited means.”
Nadeau blames York County and its governing board of commissioners for not allocating more court days to hear cases.
“The number of full-time jurists in York County’s three district courts has doubled from three to six in the past 10 years, with the support of the state Legislature,” Nadeau said in an email. “By contrast, York County’s commissioners … have continued to fund only 64 hours of judicial time in the county’s lone probate court that must serve a population of more than 200,000.” “It’s frankly very shameful and myopic. As a judge and member of the bar, I will not accept that,” he wrote.
Full Article & Source:
Woman sues York County probate judge over case delay
York County officials say judge ‘deliberately manipulated’ court schedule to create a backlog
Maine’s highest court to hear case against York County probate judge