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In re Nadeau

Supreme Court of Maine

September 7, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF ROBERT M.A. NADEAU

          Motion: June 30, 2017

          Cabanne Howard, Esq., Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability, Portland, for the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability.

          Robert M.A. Nadeau, pro se.

          Panel: SAUFLEY C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          PER CURIAM.

         [¶1] Robert M.A. Nadeau has filed a motion for reconsideration of our June 20, 2017, decision in this judicial disciplinary matter, In re Nadeau, 2017 ME 121, ___ A.3d ___. To allow consideration of his motion, we deferred the effective date of his two-year suspension from the practice of law from August 1, 2017, to September 15, 2017; invited a response to his motion from the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability; and allowed Nadeau time to respond to any filing by the Committee.

         [¶2] In his motion, supplemented by his response to the Committee's filing, Nadeau makes two arguments.

         [¶3] First, he contends that the two-year suspension from the practice of law and $5, 000 forfeiture that we ordered as sanctions for his numerous violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct violated his rights to equal protection and due process of law because, he argues, the sanctions were more severe than the sanctions recommended by the Committee-a $10, 000 fine and a two-year suspension from the practice of law, with the suspension from practice to take effect only if Nadeau again sought election as a probate judge.

         [¶4] Second, Nadeau contends that the sanctions imposed on him may violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause because, Nadeau alleges, many clients desirous of his services will be deprived of his services if the two-year suspension from the practice of law remains in effect. Nadeau further asserts that "[t]here has been no finding that [he] has engaged in any harm to any private client in his 3 6 years as an attorney, and no evidence that he would ever commit such harm in the future."

         I. REVIEW OF ISSUES

         A. Due Process and Equal Protection

         [¶5] Nadeau argues, in essence, that the two-year suspension from the practice of law violates his rights to equal protection and due process of law because (1) the Committee's recommendation of a conditional suspension failed to notify him that he faced an actual suspension; (2) by analogy to plea agreements in criminal cases, the Court is barred from imposing a more severe sanction than recommended by the Committee; and (3) the two-year suspension from practice and the $5, 000 forfeiture are more severe sanctions than sanctions that have been imposed on other judges, similarly situated, after findings of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

         [¶6] Nadeau's claim that he was not on notice about the possibility that his license to practice law would be suspended is undermined by our opinion in In re Cox, 658 A.2d 1056 (Me. 1995)-a case specifically addressed during the February oral argument. Cox, like Nadeau, was no longer a judge when we heard his judicial discipline action. Id. at 1057. Cox, like Nadeau, argued that the action was moot because no sanctions could be imposed for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct on a person who was no longer a judge. Id. As we pointed out to Nadeau at oral argument, we rejected Cox's mootness argument, and, noting that Cox had "returned to the private practice of law, " id., we ordered that Cox be disbarred from the practice of law as the sanction for his violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, id. at 1058. Our decision in Cox placed Nadeau on notice that his license to practice law could be suspended, and that exposure was made even more clear by the colloquy at oral argument.[1]

         [¶7] Further, despite his assertion that he was not provided with adequate notice, Nadeau does not suggest anything that he would have or could have done differently, or anything additional that he might have offered in the proceeding before us, had he been concerned that his capacity to practice law could be suspended. In the arguments that he presented to the single justice [Clifford, J.) and to us, Nadeau asserted that he had not committed any violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. He also asserted to us that, ...


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