Maine Supreme Judicial Court

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Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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Court information
Justices:   7
Founded:   1820
Salary
Chief:  $142,000
Associates:  $123,000
Judicial selection
Method:   Gubernatorial appointment of judges
Term:   7 years
Active justices

Leigh Ingalls Saufley  •  Donald Alexander  •  Andrew Mead  •  Ellen Gorman  •  Jeffrey Hjelm  •  Thomas Humphrey  •  Joseph Jabar  •  

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Established in 1820, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in Maine's judicial system. Known as the Law Court when sitting as an appellate court, it is composed of seven justices.

Justices

Justices of the Maine Supreme Court
The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected by
Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley1997-presentGov. Angus S. King
Justice Donald Alexander1998-PresentGov. Angus S. King
Justice Andrew Mead2007-2021Gov. Paul LePage
Justice Ellen Gorman2007-2021Gov. John Baldacci
Justice Jeffrey Hjelm2014-2021Gov. Paul LePage
Associate justice Thomas Humphrey2015-2021Gov. Paul LePage
Justice Joseph Jabar2009-2016Gov. John Baldacci


Chief justice

See Chief justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court

The chief justice of the court is appointed by the governor.[1]

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.

Jurisdiction

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.[2]

Judicial selection

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.[1]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

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.[3]

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."[4]

Caseloads

Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2014 607 *
2013 690 *
2012 675 *
2011 690 *
2010 684 *
2009 733 *
2008 755 *
2007 774 *

[5][6]

  • The Maine Judiciary does not provide annual disposition statistics.

Notable decisions

Ethics

Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

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.[7]

History

  • 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).[8]
  • 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.[9][10]

Former justices

See also

External links

References

MaineMaine Supreme Judicial CourtMaine Superior CourtMaine District CourtsMaine Family DivisionMaine Small Claims CourtMaine Business and Consumer CourtMaine Probate CourtsUnited States District Court for the District of MaineUnited States bankruptcy court, District of MaineUnited States Court of Appeals for the First CircuitMaine countiesMaine judicial newsMaine judicial electionsJudicial selection in MaineMaineTemplate.jpg