Michelle Holmes Ladouceur announces candidacy for St. Lawrence County Surrogate

News release

CANTON, NY – Michelle Holmes Ladouceur, of Waddington, NY, was surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and supporters as she announced her candidacy for St. Lawrence County Surrogate’s Court Judge from the steps of the St. Lawrence County Courthouse in Canton, NY, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022.

For the last seven years, Ladouceur has served as the Principal Court Attorney to the Honorable John F. Richey, the County’s elected Surrogate’s Court Judge since January 2015. Judge Richey is retiring on February 17, 2022. Ladouceur will continue in her role as Court Attorney pending the election of a new Surrogate in November.

Surrogate’s Court handles the estate and trust filings for residents of St. Lawrence County who have died, with or without a will, as well as guardianships and adoptions. Of the eleven counties in the Fourth Judicial District, St. Lawrence County’s Surrogate’s Court is among the top 3 busiest in terms of total annual filings.

Ladouceur, who is a multi-generational native of St. Lawrence County and grew up in Madrid, is proud of her North Country roots. “I share the core values that define the North Country – hard work, pride in our communities, faith and protection of our individual freedoms and the rights given to us by the United States Constitution.”

Ladouceur is a 1991graduate of Madrid-Waddington Central School and received her B.A. in Political Science from SUNY Potsdam in 1995. She earned her law degree from Albany Law School of Union University in 1999, where she graduated first in her law school class. After working for one year for Bond, Schoeneck & King in Albany, Ladouceur chose to return to St. Lawrence County with her husband, Jason, an Ogdensburg native, and they, along with their son Grayson, reside in Waddington.

In July 2000, Ladouceur joined the law firm of Cappello & Linden in Potsdam, which became Cappello Linden & Ladouceur in 2002, and spent nearly 15 years in private practice with Roger Linden and Frank Cappello. While in practice, Ladouceur counseled clients on estate planning matters and drafted hundreds of wills and other estate planning documents. She made frequent appearances in Surrogate’s Court before the Honorable Kathleen Rogers, whose presence on the bench heavily influenced the focus of Ladouceur’s practice and inspired her to handle all types of cases that can come before the Surrogate.

“Surrogate’s Court is a court of highs and lows. In some cases I was helping clients navigate what can be a complex and technical legal process while grieving the loss of a loved one, and in other cases I was celebrating with clients when the adoption of their child was complete.”

In addition to Surrogate’s Court, Ladouceur made frequent appearances in Supreme and Family Courts. “I was fortunate to learn from many of the best and brightest judges in St. Lawrence County. During those years, I learned not only the law, but the skills necessary to be a successful attorney, including how to communicate with clients, lawyers, judges and court staff; how to resolve cases to avoid unnecessary litigation; how to find common ground; and how to work under pressure and meet deadlines.”

Ladouceur believes the seven years spent as Judge Richey’s Principal Court Attorney in Surrogate’s Court have provided her with invaluable insight and experience. “I am the only candidate who has spent every day of the last seven years working in Surrogate’s Court and because of that experience, I am uniquely qualified and ready to be the next Surrogate. I know and understand every aspect of the daily operations of the Court. I am familiar with each type of proceeding and the applicable law. I know what needs to be done to ensure the Court continues to operate efficiently and effectively for the benefit of the residents of this County.”

For the past five years, Ladouceur taught Wills Trusts and Estates Administration as an adjunct instructor at SUNY Canton. Ladouceur has also served on various boards and councils in the County, including the Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country, the St. Lawrence Child Care Council, the SUNY Canton Legal Studies Advisory Board, the Finance Council for the Diocese of Ogdensburg and the Parish Council at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Madrid.

Ladouceur is a member of both the New York State Bar Association and the St. Lawrence County Bar Association, and has served as Treasurer of the St. Lawrence County Bar Association for the past fourteen years.

Ladouceur will be seeking the Democratic and Conservative lines on the November ballot, but is hopeful that her experience on both sides of the bench in the Court she seeks to lead will help assure all voters that she is right for the job.

“Chances are you and your family will have a matter before Surrogate’s Court at some point in your lives, whether it be for an estate, a guardianship or an adoption, and if that happens you deserve an experienced judge who has knowledge of the law, compassion, an even temperament and common sense. If elected, it will be my privilege to be that judge for you and every resident of St. Lawrence County.”

Ladouceur will circulate designating petitions beginning March 1, 2022.