Maine Supreme Judicial Court

Maine Supreme Judicial Court

Established 1830
Country Maine Maine
United States United States
Location Varies; primarily Portland, Maine
Coordinates 43°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 by Maine Constitution
Decisions are appealed to Supreme Court of the United States
Website Official website
Chief Justice
Currently Leigh Ingalls Saufley
Since October 20, 1997
Lead position ends March 1, 2023

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. Justices serve for seven-year terms, with no limit on the number of terms that they may serve.

Known as the Law Court when sitting as an appellate court, other functions of the Court include hearing appeals of sentences longer than one year of incarceration, overseeing admission to the Bar and the conduct of its members, and being the rulemaking authority for all the State's courts.[1]

The Maine Court is one of the few state Supreme Courts in the United States authorized to issue advisory opinions. Such opinions are issued at the request of the Governor or Legislature, as set out in the Maine Constitution.[1]

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 to hold the Supreme Court's proceedings in.[2] The Court did meet there from 1830 until 1970, when it moved to the Cumberland County Courthouse on a permanent basis. The completed 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.[3]

The MSJC is also authorized to rule on the fitness of the Governor of Maine to serve in their office, upon the Maine Secretary of State certifying before the Court their belief that the Governor is temporarily unable to carry out their duties. The Court is then required to hold a hearing and, if it agrees with the Secretary, declare the Governor's Office temporarily vacant and transfer its duties to the President of the Maine Senate who would serve as Acting Governor. Upon the Governor becoming able to resume their duties, the Secretary of State would certify that before the Court, which would then decide if it agrees. [4]

Current justices

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

Name Date of Birth Birthplace Appointed By Beginning Service Prior Positions
Leigh Ingalls Saufley (Chief Justice) 1954 (age 6162) Angus King October 20, 1997
Joseph Jabar[5] 1946 (age 6970) Waterville, Maine John E. Baldacci September 1, 2009 Superior Court
Donald G. Alexander 1942 (age 7374) Angus King September 2, 1998
Ellen A. Gorman John E. Baldacci October 1, 2007
Andrew M. Mead 1952 (age 6364) John E. Baldacci April 2007
Jeffrey L. Hjelm 1956 (age 5960) Paul LePage August 1, 2014[6] Superior Court
Thomas E. Humphrey 1945 (age 7071) Paul LePage 2015 Chief Justice of Maine Superior Court

There is one active retired justice.

Name Date of Birth Birthplace Appointed By Beginning Service Ended Service Prior Positions
Robert W. Clifford [7] May 2, 1937 Lewiston, Maine Joseph E. Brennan August 1, 1986 2007 Chief Justice of Superior Court

See also


  1. 1 2 "State of Maine Judicial Branch: Supreme Court". State of Maine Judicial Branch. 2011. Retrieved 2013-12-07.
  2. "Talks continue on Kennebec courthouse parking area". Kennebec Journal. June 23, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  3. "Historic Kennebec County Courthouse in Augusta to host Maine Supreme Judicial Court again". Kennebec Journal. September 8, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  4. "What it takes to remove a governor from office". Kennebec Journal. August 26, 2016. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  6. "Senate elevates Superior Court judge, long time prosecutor to the bench". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  7. Judy Harrison (2009-05-30). "Justice leaving Maine supreme court". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2009-07-02.

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