The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has suspended the law license of former York County Probate Judge Robert Nadeau for two years for multiple violations of the state’s code of judicial conduct.

The court’s 34-page decision, handed down Tuesday, is the latest setback for Nadeau. He was suspended 30 days last summer while he was still on the bench, then lost his bid for re-election in November.

Nadeau has been operating a law practice in Biddeford, but will not be allowed to practice in Maine for two years beginning Aug. 1. He also must pay a $5,000 fine.

“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,” the court’s ruling states. “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.”

Despite the ruling, Nadeau defended his record in a statement Tuesday night.

“I am proud to have made a positive difference in the lives of nearly 20,000 children, adult incapacitated persons, and their parents, grandparents, adult children and others during my 16 years of service for York County and its probate court,” Nadeau said in an email. “This is so, despite the probate court’s woeful lack of adequate support and exercise of substantial interference by its county commissioners and despite the unfortunately high degree of politicization of Maine’s elected private judges by those commissioners, their uninformed manager and probate register, the York County bar, and others who oppose an elected judiciary.”

Nadeau was first elected as probate judge in York County in 1996. He served three four-year terms before losing re-election in 2008. However, he won back his seat in 2012.

The most recent allegations against him were detailed in a report filed Jan. 16, 2016, by the state’s Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability, which governs members of the bar.

Shortly after he was elected in 2012, Nadeau directed the county’s register of probate not to include seven attorneys on a list of court-appointed counsel, a move apparently motivated by contentious relationships with those attorneys. Two of them, Thomas Elias and Pamela Holmes, had worked alongside Nadeau in private practice.

He later reversed that decision after seeking an opinion from the state’s advisory committee on judicial ethics. However, “damage had been done to all of the attorneys implicated,” the Supreme Judicial Court ruled.

Nadeau also removed an attorney, Amanda Ramirez, from three active cases because of her association with Holmes. That decision was swiftly reversed as well, but the court ruled that he “allowed his adverse relationship with attorney Holmes to influence his judgment regarding another attorney.”

Holmes learned about Nadeau’s conduct in early 2013 after receiving his email directed to the register of probate. She objected, and in his motion to transfer the matter to another judge, Nadeau ordered her to destroy a lawfully obtained public document. Holmes refused, and Nadeau responded by filing a complaint against her.

Nadeau encouraged parties before his court – both in written and oral orders – to contact county officials to lobby for more court funding, which would ultimately increase his salary.

He also was accused of overhauling the probate court schedule as retaliation against the county commissioners after they rejected his request for a pay raise. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled, however, that no violation occurred on that count, although it caused problems for a number of probate cases, including adoption proceedings.

In handing down its suspension, the court noted that “Judge Nadeau has not fully acknowledged the intemperate nature of his decisions.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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