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Maine Supreme Judicial Court

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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; -70.253701
Authorized byMaine Constitution
Appeals toSupreme Court of the United States
Number of positions7
WebsiteOfficial website
Chief Justice
CurrentlyValerie Stanfill
SinceJune 8, 2021

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 or a mandatory retirement age.[1][2][3]

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]

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.
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

As of May 4, 2022, the justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court are:

Name Born Residence Appointed by Service began Law school Prior positions
Valerie Stanfill, Chief Justice 1957/1958 (age 64–65)[8] Wayne Janet Mills (D) June 8, 2021 Maine Judge Maine Superior Court (2020–2021)
Andrew Mead 1952 (age 69–70) Bangor John Baldacci (D) March 22, 2007 New York Judge Maine Superior Court (1992–2007)
Joseph Jabar (1946-07-09) July 9, 1946 (age 76) Waterville John Baldacci (D) September 1, 2009 Maine Judge Maine Superior Court (2001–2009)
Thomas E. Humphrey (1945-11-19) November 19, 1945 (age 76) Sanford Paul LePage (R) June 9, 2015 Boston College Chief Judge Maine Superior Court (2004–2015)
Andrew M. Horton (1949-08-28) August 28, 1949 (age 73) Falmouth Janet Mills (D) February 4, 2020 Georgetown Judge Maine Superior Court (2007–2020)
Catherine Connors (1959-01-26) January 26, 1959 (age 63) Kennebunk Janet Mills (D) February 4, 2020 Northwestern
Rick E. Lawrence 1955/1956 (age 66–67) Portland Janet Mills (D) May 4, 2022 Harvard Judge Maine District Court (2000–2022)

There are two active retired justices.

Name Born Residence Appointed by Service began Ended service Active retired
service began
Law school Prior positions
Robert W. Clifford [9] (1937-05-02) May 2, 1937 (age 85) Lewiston Joseph E. Brennan (D) August 1, 1986 August 31, 2009 September 1, 2009 Boston College (JD)
Virginia (LL.M.)
Chief Justice of Superior Court
Jeffrey L. Hjelm (1955-09-30) September 30, 1955 (age 66) Camden Paul LePage (R) August 1, 2014 December 2019 February 2020 Case Western Reserve Superior court

See also


  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. ^ "Janet Mills names Androscoggin County judge to lead state's highest court". May 10, 2021. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  9. ^ Judy Harrison (2009-05-30). "Justice leaving Maine supreme court". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2009-07-02.

External links

This page was last edited on 12 August 2022, at 19:10
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