Biddeford attorney Scott Houde was recently named York County Judge of Probate by Gov. Janet Mills. He will complete the term of Bryan Chabot, who resigned in October to become an Administrative Judge with the Maine Workers Compensation Commission. Courtesy Photo

BIDDEFORD —  Attending law school and becoming an attorney was always a dream for Scott Houde. He achieved that dream and has been practicing law for more than 14 years, representing people in probate, family and criminal law.

Now, his career is taking another path. Houde was named York County Judge of Probate a week ago by Gov. Janet Mills.

Houde will be completing a term previously held by Bryan Chabot, who resigned in October to take up a new position as an Administrative Judge for the Workers Compensation Commission. The four-year probate judge term expires on Dec. 31, 2020, and Houde, a Democrat, said he plans to run for the part-time position in the November 2020 election.

He was selected by Mills from a field of five names submitted to the governor by members of the York County Democratic Committee, which caucused in October.

He said he is thrilled with his appointment — and he is mindful of the task ahead.

Probate court often deals with sensitive subjects and situations, Houde said. The probate court handles family matters ranging from adoptions to guardianships of incapacitated adults, wills and estates, names changes and the like.

A judge, he said, should be of good temperament, so those appearing before the court can get the access to justice they deserve. During hearings on those difficult subjects, Houde noted that sometimes emotions rise, and that is why it is important for a judge to be able to employ the skills necessary to calm the situation so the conversations that need to take place can be accomplished. Over the years, he said, he’s developed the skills that match up with the job.

In an introduction letter to members of the York County Democratic Committee about his work as an attorney, prior to the caucus, Houde described some of his law practice clients as being among the most marginalized — the poor, those with mental health problems, substance abuse issues and some who suffered from abuse and neglect as children.

Coach surfing and homelessness is the norm, not the exception, for far too many adolescents and adults in York County, he said.

“These clients need compassionate and knowledgeable advocates,” he said.

Growing up in Biddeford, Houde attended parochial schools, including St. Andre’s School for kindergarten, moving on to St. Mary’s for elementary school and St. Joseph’s for grades seven and eight before heading off to Biddeford High School.

In kindergarten, he said, he had the same teacher as his father when he was a boy.

Houde’s father was a school teacher; his mother was a cashier at a local supermarket.

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics — without student debt, thanks to his family and working during summer breaks — he earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Southern Maine and went to work in the business world.

But the dream of being an attorney beckoned, and in his late twenties, Houde signed up for the University of Maine School of Law.

After earning his law degree, he worked at Woodman Edmands Danylik & Austin PA and later opened at his own firm, the Law Office of Scott M. Houde.

In addition to practicing law, Houde volunteers and donates his time with various organizations. He’s coached his nephew’s Little League team in Saco, sat on the Biddeford Zoning Board of Appeals, has been on the Board of Visitors at York County Jail and helped raise money for many organizations — including Waban, York County Shelters, the Campaign for Justice and Caring Unlimited — the latter by taking a cold, cold January dip in the Atlantic Ocean. He has also been active in the York Bar Association, where he twice served as president.

“Community means a lot to me,” he said.

He recalled the words of one of  his mentors: “Put other people first and watch amazing things happen.”

In announcing his appointment, Mills said Houde will serve the county well.

“Scott Houde is a well-respected, experienced probate attorney who has dedicated much of his life to serving the people of York County,” said Mills. “I am confident that Scott’s compassion, devotion to fairness, and commitment to the rule of law will serve the people of Maine well.”

Having represented clients in the county probate court, Houde said he’s gotten to know the staff there over the years, and their strong work ethic.

He said he plans to continue with a small part-time private law practice, as have many of his predecessors.

Houde received the news of his appointment at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 28.

By the end of the day, his phone had rung incessantly and the congratulatory emails filled his inbox.

“I told my wife Maura I don’t want to sleep, this day is so great,” he said in an interview late last week. “I am super-excited to do this and I want to do a fantastic job for the county and the people that go through the courts.”

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