A Maine committee that investigates complaints of misconduct against state judges is recommending that York County Probate Judge Robert M.A. Nadeau be suspended from his judicial duties and forfeit his salary for the rest of his elected term, which expires at the end of this year.

The Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability made that recommendation to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court last week after considering complaints that since 2013 Nadeau showed bias by bypassing certain lawyers for court appointments, and that he changed the probate court schedule last year to hear fewer cases after the York County commissioners refused to give him the raise he requested.

The state’s highest court received the recommendation on Jan. 19 and has yet to schedule a hearing, which would be held before a single justice of the court.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court already is weighing whether to suspend Nadeau for four weeks for prior accusations. He also faces a lawsuit claiming that his changes to the court schedule cost a woman custody of her grandchild.

Nadeau has been publicly reprimanded multiple times, including in 2007, when the supreme court suspended him from his judicial duties for 30 days.

He was first elected York County probate judge in 1996 and was re-elected in 2000 and 2004. He was defeated in 2008 after his suspension, but was elected again in 2012.


This latest recommendation would be the most severe sanction yet for Nadeau, who works part time, like all Maine probate judges.

The seven-page recommendation was written by Cabanne Howard, executive secretary and counsel for the committee, and submitted on behalf of the committee’s six members.

“In view of the multiple violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct … and in view of Judge Nadeau’s past disciplinary record before the court both as a judge and as a lawyer, the committee recommends that he be again censured; that he be suspended from his judicial duties for the duration of his current term, ending December 31, 2016; and that he be ordered to remit his salary for that period to York County,” Howard wrote.

Nadeau has repeatedly denied an accusation by county officials that he created an artificial backlog of court cases in retaliation for not getting a substantial raise. He said the allegation is based almost entirely on information provided by York County Register of Probate Carol Lovejoy, who also is an elected official.

Lovejoy testified before the county commissioners on Oct. 7 that there was no probate court backlog before Nadeau imposed scheduling changes in April, and only enough cases for perhaps a few extra days of work per month. Nadeau contends that Lovejoy is misinformed.

The county commissioners did give Nadeau a raise, voting on April 15 to pay him $54,206 a year for working two days per week. They rejected, however, his proposal to work three days per week for $90,000 or five days per week for $120,000.


On Friday, Nadeau again denied those accusations and added that claims he bypassed seven attorneys for court-appointed work also are unfounded.

“No lawyers who wanted court appointments from my court have ever been bypassed from receiving them,” he said in an email. “Of the seven attorneys in question, four specifically instructed the court’s register (Lovejoy) to remove their names from the appointment list before I assumed my position in 2013, and the other three have remained on the list and have received appointments in the same regular manner as all other eligible attorneys. The committee misunderstood the evidence regarding those facts.”

Nadeau said he looks forward to the case being heard by a single justice of the high court and expects to be cleared of the allegations against him.

In the case already pending before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the full panel of seven justices heard oral arguments in November. The justices gave no indication when they may rule.

In the civil case in Cumberland County, witness testimony is expected to be heard during the last week of February.


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