Maine Supreme Judicial Court
|Maine Supreme Judicial Court|
|Method:||Gubernatorial appointment of judges|
|Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley||1997-present||Gov. Angus S. King|
|Justice Donald Alexander||1998-Present||Gov. Angus S. King|
|Justice Andrew Mead||2007-2021||Gov. Paul LePage|
|Justice Ellen Gorman||2007-2021||Gov. John Baldacci|
|Justice Jeffrey Hjelm||2014-2021||Gov. Paul LePage|
|Justice Joseph Jabar||2009-2016||Gov. John Baldacci|
The chief justice of the court is appointed by the governor.
There have been twenty-six chief justices of the court. Prentiss Mellen was the first, and current Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley is the 26th. She has served as the court's chief justice since 2001.
The court has appellate jurisdiction of all cases. Additionally, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is one of the few state supreme courts that is authorized to issue advisory opinions. These advisory opinions are issued at the request of either the Executive Branch or the Legislative Branch.
Justices are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Maine State Senate. Seven justices serve on the court, and each serves a seven-year term, with an unlimited number of terms. From the beginning of the court in 1820, 108 different justices have served.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Maine was given a campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Maine received a score of -1.01. Based on the justices selected, Maine was the 2nd most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Removal of justices
Maine judges may be removed by either being impeached by the Maine House of Representatives and convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Maine State Senate, or may be removed "upon the address by the governor of both houses of the legislature."
The Maine Judiciary does not provide annual case disposition statistics.
- Courtroom Weekly: Maine high court rules kids not required to sleep at sleepover parties, December 19, 2013
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Maine earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
- 1820: Article VI, Section 1 of the Maine Constitution created the state's judicial branch. The supreme court was originally comprised of three justices for terms of life or good behavior. Previously Maine had been a part of Massachusetts and included in that court system.
- 1840: Justices' terms were reduced to seven years or good behavior.
- 1847: The court size was increased to four members.
- 1852: The Court Reorganization Act of 1852 expanded the supreme court's jurisdiction, increased the number of justices to seven, and set out the guidelines for justices to travel among the circuits.
- 1855: The number of justices on the court was increased from seven to eight, and divided into two divisions. Four justices made up the Law Court and four held nisi prius terms (original jurisdiction).
- 1856: The two divisions of the court were abolished and the number of justices was reduced back to seven.
- 1857: The number of justices was again increased to eight.
- 1879: The number of justices was again decreased to seven.
- 1880: The number of justices was again increased to eight.
- 1929: Due to the heavy caseload of the supreme court, legislature created the Maine Superior Court. The number of supreme court justices was reduced to six.
- 1961: The municipal courts and trial justices system was replaced with the district courts in order to unify the state's court system.
- 1975: The number of justices was increased seven.
- Courts in Maine
- News: Maine smart meter opponents file appeal with state's high court, January 16, 2012
- News: Maine Supreme Court upholds life sentence in attempted murder case, December 15, 2011
- Maine Supreme Judicial Court
- The Cleaves Law Library, "History of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court"
- State of Maine Judicial Branch, "Supreme Judicial Court Decisions and Orders"
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Maine," accessed January 28, 2015
- Maine.gov, "Maine Supreme Court," accessed February 17, 2015
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Selection: Removal of Judges," accessed February 17, 2015
- Maine Judicial Branch, "Annual Reports," accessed February 17, 2015
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Wikipedia.org, "Nisi prius," accessed January 28, 2015
- State of Maine Judicial Branch, "History of the Maine Courts," accessed January 28, 2015
- Maine State Archives, "Maine Court History," accessed January 28, 2015
|Former||Jon Levy • Warren Silver • Robert W. Clifford • D. Brock Hornby • Prentiss Mellen • Chief justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court • Gene Carter • Albion Keith Parris • Edward Fox • Morton Brody • Kermit Lipez • Scott Wilson (Maine) •|