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. Between 1820 and 1839, justices served lifetime appointments with a mandatory retirement age of 70. Starting in 1839, justices have been appointed for seven-year terms, with no limit on the number of terms that they may serve nor a mandatory retirement age.[1][2][3]

Maine Supreme Judicial Court
43°39′33″N 70°15′13″W / 43.659245°N 70.253701°W / 43.659245; -70.253701
LocationVaries; primarily Portland, Maine
Coordinates43°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
Chief Justice
CurrentlyValerie Stanfill
SinceJune 8, 2021

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 seven justices to sit there at the same time, has allowed 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 new Judicial Center in Biddeford, scheduled to be completed in early 2023, will also contain a courtroom large enough to permit the court to sit there.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court, 1859-1862. Standing, from left to right: Daniel Goodenow, Richmond D. Rice, Woodbury Davis, and future Chief Justice John Appleton. Sitting, from left to right: Edward Kent, Seth May, Chief Justice John S. Tenney, and Jonas Cutting.

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 justices edit

Justice Born Joined Term ends Appointed by Law school
Valerie Stanfill, Chief Justice 1957 or 1958 (age 65–66) June 8, 2021 June 8, 2028 Janet Mills (D) Maine
Andrew Mead 1952 (age 71–72) March 22, 2007 March 22, 2028 John Baldacci (D) New York
Andrew M. Horton (1949-08-28) August 28, 1949 (age 74) February 4, 2020 February 3, 2027 Janet Mills (D) Georgetown
Catherine Connors (1959-01-26) January 26, 1959 (age 65) February 4, 2020 February 3, 2027 Janet Mills (D) Northwestern
Rick E. Lawrence (1955-11-04) November 4, 1955 (age 68) May 4, 2022 May 4, 2029 Janet Mills (D) Harvard
Wayne R. Douglas 1951 or 1952 (age 71–72) March 10, 2023 March 10, 2030 Janet Mills (D) Maine
seat vacant

Vacancy and pending nomination edit

Seat Seat last held by Vacancy reason Date of vacancy Nominee Date of nomination
Joseph Jabar Resignation January 31, 2024[8]

There are three active retired justices.

Justice Born Service began Ended service Active retired
service began
Appointed by Law school Prior positions
Robert W. Clifford [9] (1937-05-02) May 2, 1937 (age 86) August 1, 1986 August 31, 2009 September 1, 2009 Joseph E. Brennan (D) Boston College (JD)
Virginia (LL.M.)
Chief Justice of Superior Court
Jeffrey Hjelm (1955-09-30) September 30, 1955 (age 68) August 1, 2014 December 2019 February 2020 Paul LePage (R) Case Western Reserve Superior court
Thomas E. Humphrey (1945-11-19) November 19, 1945 (age 78) June 9, 2015 March 7, 2022 March 7, 2022[10] Paul LePage (R) Boston College Chief Justice Maine Superior Court (2004-2015)

See also edit

References edit

  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. ^ "Maine high court justice says he was passed over for reappointment". Press Herald. February 2, 2024. Retrieved February 13, 2024.
  9. ^ Judy Harrison (2009-05-30). "Justice leaving Maine supreme court". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
  10. ^ "Active Retired Justice, Maine Supreme Court" (PDF). Office of the Governor. March 7, 2022. Retrieved March 18, 2023.

External links edit