2016-10-28 / Community

Election 2016

Meet the candidates

York County Judge of Probate

The race for York County Register 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 Post to each candidate are provided below, in alphabetical order. The surveys include contract information, should readers care to question the candidates further on their positions.

Note: Robert Nadeau did not respond to requests to complete a survey.

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.

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.

The public’s trust has been shaken. Many people do not understand why anyone acting either as an attorney or a judge who has been found (by the Maine Board of Overseers or the Maine Supreme Judicial Court) to have leveraged judicial prestige for personal benefit, to have borne some responsibility for mismanagement of his firm’s client trust account, to have lied about his opponent in an election, and whose testimony was found to be “exaggerated, inconsistent and unreliable” by a Board of Overseers Panel can remain a Judge. I hope to restore the public’s confidence in their probate judge.

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.

In October of 2015, DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew issued a statement in response to the allegation that Judge Nadeau creating a backlog at the court by restricting the number of cases that could be scheduled in a given court day, blocking off a quarter of his two-day work week for writing opinions and leaving one afternoon per week open: “In prior years, the average time a child and adoptive family would wait for a court date was less than 90 days after petitioning. This year, the York County Probate Court offered not a single adoption date in June, July or August. Adoption petitions filed in April and May were given adoption dates as far out as February 2016. The delays were unacceptable as Maine faces a continued shortage of families willing to adopt children in need of forever-homes.”

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. The opiate epidemic in particular requires creative, innovative solutions as they relate to the Probate Court’s jurisdiction. These needn’t involve a great deal of money. Having a judge with considerable experience in dealing with people suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues who brings compassion and creativity to the position could make a huge difference in how the court functions and what the outcomes are for those it serves. I hope to serve York County in this capacity.

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 con- sider 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 County 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 actual 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

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