Board of Overseers of the Bar v. Robert M.A. Nadeau
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Docket No.: GCF #19-192
Issued by: Grievance Commission
Date: February 14, 2020
Respondent: Robert M.A. Nadeau
Bar Number: 007460
Order: Reinstatement Not Recommended
Disposition/Conduct: Reinstatement Not Recommended
On or about September 17, 2019, Petitioner Robert M.A. Nadeau (hereinafter, "Petitioner"), who is pro se, petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court for reinstatement of his license to practice law, pursuant to M. Bar R. 29. The Board of Overseers of the Bar ("the Board"), who is represented by Special Bar Counsel Justin W. Andrus ("Bar Counsel"), opposed his petition in a timely manner, pursuant to Maine Bar R. 29(f). Accordingly, the matter was referred to Panel D of the Grievance Commission for hearing, pursuant to M. Bar R. 29(g). Panel D is comprised of Carolyn A. Silsby, Esq., Sophia Leotsakos-Wilson, and Teresa M. Cloutier, Esq., the Panel Chair. The parties had no objections to the composition of the Panel.
A hearing before Panel D was duly noticed for February 3, 2019, to continue to February 4, 2019 if more time was needed. The Panel conducted a hearing on February 3, 2020. Bar Counsel was present for the Board, but Petitioner did not appear.
On Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 8:19 p.m., Petitioner sent an email to Bar Counsel, with a courtesy copy to the Board Clerk. That email stated:
After consultation with my wife and family who share my dismay and disappointment regarding your offices position concerning the above matter, and in light of my attainment of my 65th birthday in the ensuing week, we have decided that resuming status as a Maine attorney where I have served thousands of grateful, supportive families and other clients from both sides of the bench with distinction, is no longer a worthwhile endeavor.
Accordingly, you may consider my petition for reinstatement to have been withdrawn by me, notwithstanding its merits, and you should report that the hearing scheduled for Monday shall be deemed canceled. You may also prepare and file an assented-to motion to dismiss my petition without prejudice, noting its withdrawal by me, provided that you will first run your draft by me for my review and approval.
Hearing Exhibit Z.
The Board Clerk acknowledged receipt of Petitioners email mid-afternoon on Sunday, February 2, 2020. She informed him and Bar Counsel that she was seeking guidance from the Panel Chair, but that she may not receive a response as it was a weekend. She cautioned Petitioner and Bar Counsel that they should plan to attend the scheduled hearing.
As I have no further interest in this matter, there is no point in my travel and appearance tomorrow. I, my mother who was otherwise prepared to travel tomorrow morning with me, and my wife who was prepared to call in to testify at 12 noon regarding me and what she personally observed and knows about Judge Faheys, Ms. Madore-Pratts, and Carol Lovejoys behaviors which Mr. Andrus appears unable to put in perspective, do believe very, very strongly that I am most suitable to resume being a Maine attorney.... [W]e also know that this already extended process (4 months and counting of additional suspension punishment beyond my 2-year suspension which otherwise should have expired as of October 1, 2019) will continue to meet resistance by Mr. Andrus that would apparently not end with a panel hearing if it were in any way to be favorable to me but, instead, would otherwise require further challenges to and reviews by a single justice and thereafter by the full Law Court, plus additional distress, disappointment and expenditures of time by me, that render the process no longer worth my time and interest. Life is simply too short for me to need to subject my family and me to what appears to be a puzzling but forgone conclusion exacerbating the sadness they have seen me experienced for almost 3 years now.
Accordingly, my petition is simply withdrawn. Meaning no disrespect to your office or Mr. Andrus, and certainly no disrespect to the panel members, I will not be attending the hearing and I will not be getting my mother up at 6 AM tomorrow to prepare to drive up to Augusta despite her willingness to do so....
I can file a Notice of Withdrawal of Petition for Reinstatement with the Law Court if necessary.
In response to statements by Bar Counsel and the Clerk that the hearing would still be held, Petitioner stated:
You [Bar Counsel] live near there, and youre being paid to carry-on. Neither is the case for me.
[A] notice of hearing is not an order to appear pursuant to a [sic] a right the Law Court affords to former Maine attorneys seeking reinstatement. The notice is only an opportunity to appear for which a default may be noted by the panel in the absence of my physical appearance. I have incidentally stated that I can be available by phone at the appointed time if the panel has any questions regarding the withdrawal, although there appears to be no need for even that under the circumstances. .. The fact of my withdrawal may be reported by the panel in my absence accordingly. I see no need or reason for me to travel to Augusta under such circumstances, as there is nothing more to accomplish. I'm not a Maine attorney, and I no longer have an interest in being one, given this experience.
Id. (emphasis added).
Panel D convened for the public hearing on the morning of February 3, 2020. Bar Counsel was in attendance for the Board. Petitioner did not appear. The emails between Petitioner, the Board Clerk and Bar Counsel were made part of the record as Hearing Exhibit Z. Bar Counsel offered no other evidence.
Bar Counsel requested a substantive default, arguing that Petitioner could not unilaterally withdraw his petition at this point or submit a notice of dismissal without prejudice. He further argued that any disposition of this matter should have the same effect as an adverse judgment, with the resulting prohibition against reapplying for reinstatement set forth in M. Bar R. 29(h).
The Panel finds that Petitioner Robert M.A. Nadeau knowingly failed to appear at the hearing that was held on February 3, 2020 on his petition for reinstatement. It expressly rejects Petitioners initial suggestion that he should be permitted, unilaterally, to withdraw his petition without prejudice at this point. The Panel finds no basis in the relevant rules that would permit that.
The Panel recommends that the Court default Petitioner for his failure to appear in this matter, and order that he cannot reapply for reinstatement for at least one year from the date of its order, pursuant to M. Bar R. 29(h). In the alternative, should the Court decide to allow Petitioner to dismiss his Petition for Reinstatement, the Panel recommends that such a dismissal be with prejudice and have the same effect as an adverse judgment against him, pursuant to M. Bar R. 29(h).
Date: February 14, 2020
Teresa M. Cloutier, Esq., Panel Chair
Carolyn A. Silsby, Esq., Panel Member
Sophia Leotsakos-Wilson, Public Member