Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court won’t reconsider its decision to suspend for two years the law license of a former York County probate judge.

The state’s highest court unanimously rejected the request for reconsideration by Robert M.A. Nadeau, who won election as probate judge in York County from 1996 to 2008 and again in 2012 through 2016.

During that time, he squabbled with county commissioners over his pay and scheduling for his office, and was cited for ethical violations by a state panel that oversees the state’s judges. Unlike district and superior court judges, probate judges are elected and not appointed by the governor and confirmed by legislators.

The opinion backed by the state’s seven Supreme Judicial Court justices suggests a frustration with Nadeau, who sought to reverse a June decision to fine him $5,000 and bar him from practicing law for two years.

The Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability had found that Nadeau had sought to bar seven attorneys from getting court-appointed work, apparently because of a bad relationship he had developed with the lawyers, including two who had formerly worked with Nadeau in private practice.

He also had another attorney removed from active cases because of her business relationship with one of the seven other attorneys, and asked her to destroy a copy of an email she had received about the action. Nadeau filed a complaint against the lawyer when she refused to destroy it, saying it had been a lawfully obtained public document.

He also encouraged parties before him in probate court to contact county officials over funding, including his salary.

The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with those findings and imposed the fine and suspension in June, but Nadeau sought reconsideration because, he argued, the court shouldn’t have imposed a penalty more severe than what the judicial responsibility panel had proposed, including a provision that called for his license to practice law to be suspended only if he sought election as a probate judge again. He also said he was not on notice that he faced a possible license suspension, an argument which drew a rebuke from the state’s top court.

In its decision, the Supreme Judicial Court noted that Nadeau contended he has been “consumed” by the possibility of punishment for two years, but the court said that during the time he was wrapped up in fighting the decision, he apparently missed a major decision by the court that judges could be punished for their conduct even after they had left the bench.

The decision also recounted Nadeau’s history of breaches of judicial rules, including conducting a sexual relationship with a client, contacting his former law partners directly about the dissolution of a firm when they were all represented by other lawyers, and “unprofessional” criticism of another judge who declined to bar public access to the file on the breakup of his law firm.

The court said the severe sanctions it imposed were warranted because Nadeau has shown that prior discipline “have not been effective in dissuading (him) from engaging in intemperate conduct.”

The court, which had stayed the suspension of Nadeau’s law license while it dealt with his motion for reconsideration, said his two-year suspension will begin Oct. 1.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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