2016-11-03 / News

Three vie for York County judge of probate

Bernard Broder III Bernard Broder III The race for York County Judge of Probate features Democrat Bryan Chabot of Wells facing off against independents Robert Nadeau, the incumbent, and Bernard Broder of Old Orchard Beach. There is no Republican in the race. Candidate survey forms sent by the Courier to each candidate are provided below, in alphabetical order. The surveys include contact information, should readers care to question the candidates further on their positions.

Name: Bernard J. Broder III Age: 58 Address: Sunset Drive, Old Orchard Beach Phone: 899-7868 Email: attorneybroder@yahoo.com Occupation: Attorney (practice not specified) Family: Partner (14 years) Education completed: Associate’s degree in human services and bachelor’s degree in child development from the University of Maine; Master of divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School; Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maine School of Law Political experience: None Organizations and activities: Animal rescue volunteer and foster home provider; Hospice of Maine Volunteer of the Year; The AIDS Project (former board member and treasurer; former volunteer Civil Rights Trainer for teachers, students and law enforcement officers in the Department of the Attorney General.

Bryan Chabot Bryan Chabot Top three issues:

Top three issues:

1. Restoring dignity and decorum to the position of York County Judge of Probate – the incumbent is suspended as a judge for ethics violations. This is the second time in his tenure as judge. He has also been sanctioned by the Board of Overseers as an attorney, and potentially faces additional sanctions in Maine and Massachusetts. Being a judge is one of the greatest honors afforded to an attorney. It is a trusted and revered position in our society, and should be treated as such by the person holding the position.

Robert Nadeau Robert Nadeau 2. Citizen accessibility to the court — I’ve spent a great deal of time meeting citizens throughout York County over the past several months. People have consistently told me of long waits to access the probate court for hearings. They’ve spoken of delays in cases concluding. They’ve indicated experiencing a lack of access to their court. One citizen shared that he nearly missed out on adopting his daughter because the matter was unnecessarily stalled for four years by the judge in his opinion, and this jeopardized the international adoption process. Another shared that it took several years to close out a conservatorship, which in turn delayed being able to deal with her mother’s estate after she passed away. One of the parties in this particular case died prior to the resolution of his wife’s conservatorship.

3. Fiscal responsibility and innovative solutions — this court and the county commissioners need not be at odds and engaged in litigation. The people’s work demands that the two cooperate and share a vision of service to York County citizens over all other considerations. Tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars have been expended on litigation in recent years related to this court. That money could have been put to much more constructive purposes.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am not “seeking elected office” in the traditional sense. I humbly and respectfully ask York County citizens to consider my qualifications for this very important position of service to them and their families.

I am a public servant at heart. For all of my 19 plus years as a licensed attorney I have been engaged in public service in various ways. I’ve worked for 17 of those 19 plus years in York County and have served as an assistant district attorney there as well as having later represented some of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. In addition to my service as an attorney in York County, I served as an assistant attorney general prosecuting child protective and support enforcement matters and as an assistant district attorney in Aroostook County.

I have interned as a psychiatric social worker at the former Bangor Mental Health Institute and completed a chaplaincy internship at the Maine Medical Center. I’ve also served as a caseworker for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of York County and was Executive Director of the Trinity Learning Center in Saco.

I see my education, work and life experience as lending themselves well to the jurisdiction of the probate court, as it deals with some of the most personal, ultimate and urgent needs facing York County citizens; trusts and estates, guardianships, conservatorships, adoptions, name changes and involuntary commitments to treatment facilities. I am accustomed to assimilating complex fact patterns quickly, to trial practice, to organizing and prioritizing dockets and to working to facilitate fair and equitable outcomes.

If you could change one thing about operations of the probate office, what would it be and how would you do it?

I would like the probate court be more readily accessible to those it serves, particularly those requiring hearings or other judicial involvement on an expedited basis. This is critical given the nature of the court’s jurisdiction. Individuals and families appear with urgent needs at crucial and often difficult times in their lives and they deserve prompt access to their court. I would strive to work closely, collaboratively and cooperatively with the register, deputy register, and other staff to ensure efficient, effective and timely delivery of services to those utilizing the court. If elected, I plan to close my private practice. This will enable me to provide to the court the time required to best serve York County citizens. It will also reduce the likelihood of conflicts of interest, which require that the county bring in other judges at considerable additional expense to the county. The other candidates maintain private practices and practice with other attorneys. This increases the potential that the judge will have to recuse himself and that judges from other counties will need to hear the cases. That delays cases being heard and increases costs to York County.

Name: Bryan Chabot Age: 37 Address: Wells [street not specified] Phone: 324-4198 email: chabotbryan@hotmail.com Occupation: Attorney at Scaccia, Bartlett & Chabot in Sanford. Family: Married with two children Education completed: Bachelor’s degree in criminology and sociology from the University of Southern Maine; completed military police school in the U.S. Army; Juris Doctor degree from the USM School of Law Political experience: None Organizations and activities: York Bar Association (board member); Wells Voter Registration Appeals Board (alternate member); former member of the Sanford Planning Board and the Childcare Services of York County Board of Directors; former U.S. Army soldier (completed tours of duty in Bosnia and Iraq)

Top three issues:

1. Bring integrity back to the probate court. The current judge has had three violations of professional rules of conduct. He is currently suspended for using his judicial role to influence a case in which he was an attorney. This is his second suspension as a judge. The residents of York County deserve better.

2. Manage and decide cases fairly and efficiently. Two Superior Court Justices have found that the current judge retaliated against county commissioners for not granting him a pay increase, by making scheduling changes, which caused delays that hurt litigants. My first priority will always be to ensure that I am serving the residents of York County.

3. Create a positive working relationship with the register of probate, county commissioners, attorneys, and litigants.

Why are you seeking elected office?

I am running because I think the residents of York County deserve better. It is simply unacceptable that the current judge has had three violations of ethical standards, including two suspensions as a judge. Sadly, this is not the end as more violations are awaiting hearing. The residents deserve someone who will put their needs first and not the judge’s own self-interest. They deserve a judge that actually can and will do the job they are elected to do.

I believe in the U.S. Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor and integrity. I will apply these principles as judge.

If you could change one thing about operations of the probate office, what would it be and how would you do it?

(No answer given)

Name: Robert M. A. “Bob” Nadeau Age: 61 Address: Sevigny Avenue, Biddeford Phone: 494-8086 email: rob@nadeaulegal.com Occupation: Attorney; York County Judge of Probate Family: Married with three children Education completed: Bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University; Juris Doctor degree from Delaware Law School of Widener University; post-graduate of U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School; completed coursework at the National College of Probate Judges and the National Judicial College. Political experience: York County Judge of Probate (five terms) Organizations and activities: Maine Probate Judge’s Assembly (vice president);

Top three issues:

1. Our probate courts, unlike our state courts, are dependent upon very stingy county commissioners to give us funding for adequate judicial time that has not increased from a mere eight days per month since 1999 despite my need to handle more than 1,700 new cases per year. Those cases often involved very protracted, emotional trials lasting several days. We need a probate judge with the courage to continue to put politics aside and to instead keep fighting for proper levels of county support. The national standard is a full-time judge for every 600 cases, not one eight day per month judge for 1,700 cases. And, the problem in our county has been exacerbated over the past three years by the opioid epidemic resulting in an explosion of emergency child custody hearing needs. Neither of my opponents has tried a single case to final judgment in our probate court during the 16 years I have been on the bench, whereas I have tried more than 1,000 such cases, so they don’t understand or speak about those realities.

2. Continuing to effectively address York County’s opioid epidemic. It has resulted in an explosion of child custody cases in our probate court over the past three years. The children must and do come first in my court. Their parents must solve their addictions away from the children, and work on transitioning themselves meaningfully back into their children’s lives if they are truly committed to doing so.

3. Protecting the dignity and maximum independence of our growing population of adult incapacitated citizens, while working hard to continue my policy of providing a well-known “rocket docket” of speedy hearings and reso- lution of cases far surpassing the response times of other courts.

Why are you seeking elected office?

On an almost daily basis, and several times per day while I have been on the campaign trail, I have been approached and thanked for the positive differences I have made in the lives of our citizens and families. That type of reward far, far exceeds the value of anything else I could do or receive. Attorneys and others who know my opponents and who have seen me work as a judge know the tremendous deficit our court would experience if I could not continue this very worthy work. The ability to deliver meaningful, effective, efficient public service to the children, families and incapacitated adults who depend on the York County Probate Court requires experience, compassion, hard work and the courage to deal with county politicians who know very little about the probate court and are so fiscally tight that they are unwilling to properly fund badly needed judicial time, thereby doing more harm than good. I have written many sometimes ground-breaking court decisions for the benefit of our citizens that have been upheld on appeal, drafted court forms used statewide, fought for child support reforms favoring guardians, and once spent $25,000 of my own money to buy court computers and to pay for a needed court staff member when the county wouldn’t. I treat everyone who comes to court with attention, respect, care and clear solutions. We need to ensure that this continues, rather than rolling dice.

If you could change one thing about operations of the probate office, what would it be and how would you do it?

We need a new Register of Probate, one who is selfless, who will be loyal to and supportive of the needs of our probate court and its users, and who can be trusted. We don’t have that. Thus, I support Allen Sicard of Saco for election to that office because he is far better qualified than the incumbent Register and because that office shouldn’t be about party or politics any more than mine is. In fact, because I have historically been and continue to be supported by voters from all parties – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – and because I strongly believe that a fair judiciary must be free from politics, I ceased being a Democrat after my first 3 terms of office and switched to being an Independent in 2012 despite the greater amount of campaign work that doing so involves. And, if there were one more thing I would change, it would be to have the county, or perhaps even the state, fund the position full-time so that improved levels of service can continue to be delivered for our citizens. Unfortunately, however, most of the smaller counties in the state perennially oppose the passage of legislation to place the probate courts under the state court system away from dependence on county officials for support.

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