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Maine Supreme Judicial Court

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the state of Maine's judicial system. It is composed of seven justices, who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Maine Senate. From 1820 until 1839, justices served lifetime appointments with a mandatory retirement age of 70. Beginning in 1839, justices are appointed for seven-year terms, with no limit on the number of terms that they may serve.[1][2][3]

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Seal of Maine.svg
LocationVaries; primarily Portland, Maine
Coordinates43°39′33″N 70°15′13″W / 43.659245°N 70.253701°W / 43.659245; -70.253701Coordinates: 43°39′33″N 70°15′13″W / 43.659245°N 70.253701°W / 43.659245; -70.253701
Authorized byMaine Constitution
Appeals toSupreme Court of the United States
Number of positions7
WebsiteOfficial website
Chief Justice
CurrentlyLeigh Ingalls Saufley
SinceDecember 6, 2001
Lead position endsMarch 1, 2023

Known as the Law Court when sitting as an appellate court, the Supreme Court's other functions include hearing appeals of sentences longer than one year of incarceration, overseeing admission to the bar and the conduct of its members, and promulgating rules for all the state's courts.[4]

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court is one of the few state supreme courts in the United States authorized to issue advisory opinions, which it does upon request by the governor or legislature, as set out in the Maine Constitution.[4]

It is also unusual for a state's highest appellate court in that its primary location is not that of the state's capital city, Augusta, partially because the Kennebec County Courthouse did not have a courtroom large enough for the Supreme Court's proceedings.[5] The court did meet there from 1830 until 1970, when it permanently moved to the Cumberland County Courthouse. The renovation of the Kennebec County Courthouse in 2015, which included expansion of the bench in its largest courtroom to permit all 7 MSJC justices to sit there, will allow the court to meet there at least twice a year. It will also continue to meet in Portland, Bangor, and at high schools around the state.[6]

The MSJC is also authorized to rule on the fitness of the Governor of Maine to serve in office, which it does upon the Maine Secretary of State certifying to the court that the governor is temporarily unable to carry out the duties of that office. The court must then hold a hearing and, if it agrees that the governor is unfit, declare the office of governor temporarily vacant and transfer its duties to the President of the Maine Senate, who would serve as acting governor. If the Secretary of State later certifies to the Supreme Court that the governor is fit to resume office, the court would then decide whether it agrees. [7]

Current justicesEdit

As of January 1, 2015, the justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court were:

Name Date of Birth Residence Appointed By Beginning Service Prior Positions
Leigh Saufley
(Chief Justice)
(1954-06-21) June 21, 1954 (age 65) Portland Angus King October 20, 1997
December 6, 2001
Donald G. Alexander March 1942 (age 77) Winthrop Angus King September 2, 1998
Andrew Mead 1952 (age 66–67) Bangor John E. Baldacci March 22, 2007
Ellen Gorman (1955-11-09) November 9, 1955 (age 64) Falmouth John E. Baldacci October 1, 2007
Joseph Jabar (1946-07-09) July 9, 1946 (age 73) Waterville John E. Baldacci September 1, 2009 Superior Court
Jeffrey L. Hjelm (1955-09-30) September 30, 1955 (age 64) Camden Paul LePage August 1, 2014 Superior Court
Thomas E. Humphrey (1945-11-19) November 19, 1945 (age 74) Sanford Paul LePage June 9, 2015 Chief Justice of Maine Superior Court

There is one active retired justice.

Name Date of birth Residence Appointed by Beginning service Ended service Active retired
service began
Prior positions
Robert W. Clifford [8] (1937-05-02) May 2, 1937 (age 82) Lewiston Joseph E. Brennan August 1, 1986 August 31, 2009 September 1, 2009 Chief Justice of Superior Court

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Constitution of 1820
  2. ^ Amendment to the constitution, 1839
  3. ^ Current constitution
  4. ^ a b "State of Maine Judicial Branch: Supreme Court". State of Maine Judicial Branch. 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  5. ^ "Talks continue on Kennebec courthouse parking area". Kennebec Journal. June 23, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  6. ^ "Historic Kennebec County Courthouse in Augusta to host Maine Supreme Judicial Court again". Kennebec Journal. September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "What it takes to remove a governor from office". Kennebec Journal. August 26, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  8. ^ Judy Harrison (2009-05-30). "Justice leaving Maine supreme court". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2009-07-02.

External linksEdit