Saturday, November 4, 2017

State Supreme Court stands by its decision to suspend former judge

The two-year suspension of the Maine law license of former York County Judge of Probate Robert M.A. Nadeau will go into effect Oct. 1.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday rejected Nadeau’s request for a reconsideration of the decision they made in June to suspend him for violating judicial canons during during his last term as York County Judge of Probate.

“The sanctions we impose here rest on our consideration of all of Nadeau’s history of professional misconduct, as both an attorney and a judge,” the justices wrote in a 10-page response to his request for reconsideration.

“As we stated in the opinion that is the subject of this motion, this is now the fourth time that Judge Nadeau has appeared before us for ethical violations, and the third time for conduct that occurred while serving in a judicial capacity. Here, his actions were often carried out in an intemperate and vindictive fashion against former colleagues of his law practice and their associates. Attorneys’ reputations were harmed, and litigants before him were pressured to support his efforts to increase court resources and his compensation. Judge Nadeau has not fully acknowledged the intemperate nature of his decisions.“

The justices wrote that prior corrective actions had not been effective.

“This time, therefore, more severe sanctions are warranted,” they said.

Following complaints filed by the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability, the justices in June found Nadeau violated judicial canons when he directed probate court staff not to make court appointments to seven attorneys; regarding his removal of a previously appointed attorney from pending cases; his issuance of orders urging litigants appearing before him to lobby for increased court time, and his personal solicitation of campaign contributions for his 2016 election campaign, according to the court document.

In his motion for reconsideration, Nadeau pointed out that the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability had asked for a suspension of his license to practice law only if he were to again run for probate judge.

Nadeau also raised questions about due process, the burden of proof and what he described as the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s commentary regarding whether he “fully acknowledged the intemperate nature of his decisions.”

“Regardless of the circumstances and my efforts to quickly right any wrongs when I made them, and regardless of the applicable canons, my goal was always to avoid errors of any sort, and to do what was best and most supportive for the users of the probate court,” he wrote. “I apologize for not having done better, and I blame only myself.”

The justices found that Nadeau’s order to staff to reschedule all pending court cases in the hours after his bid for more court time and a larger salary was rejected by York County Commissioners in 2015, did not constitute a violation of judicial canons.

“With this history, Nadeau was certainly on notice regarding the sanctions he could face; he has not been denied due process in this proceeding; and he has failed to demonstrate that he has been sanctioned more harshly than others similarly situated, having identified no Maine attorney with a history of professional misconduct violations as extensive as his own,” the justices concluded.

Nadeau served several terms as York County Judge of Probate. He was first elected in 1996 and again in 2002 and 2004. He lost the 2008 election but was returned to the bench in 2012. He lost in a three-way race to Sanford Attorney Bryan Chabot in November 2016; Chabot took office in January.

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State Supreme Court stands by its decision to suspend former judge

1 comment:

StandUp said...

The judge needs to move on with his life.