April 20, 2019

Baldacci nominates Gorman for seat on state high court

AUGUSTA – Superior Court Justice Ellen Gorman of Auburn will be nominated to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court as a successor to retiring Justice Susan Calkins, Gov. John Baldacci announced Monday.

The governor also announced he will propose Waterville lawyer Michaela Murphy of Rome for the Superior Court bench.

Gorman will be Baldacci’s third nominee for the state’s highest court. Previous law court appointments approved by the Legislature during his tenure as governor include Warren Silver and Andrew Mead, both of Bangor.

“Justice Gorman has distinguished herself while serving on the Superior Court,” Baldacci said in a prepared statement. “She has the intellect, temperament and skills necessary to handle complex cases and to assure that everyone that appears in her court is treated fairly. She will make an exceptional justice on Maine’s highest court.”

Gorman was appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. Angus King in 2000 and was reappointed by Baldacci earlier this year, according to the governor’s office. She was appointed to the District Court in 1989 by Gov. John McKernan, the Baldacci administration said.

A graduate of Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and Cornell Law School in Ithaca, N.Y., Gorman would take the law court seat being vacated by Calkins if confirmed by the state Senate. Calkins announced her Oct. 1 resignation last month.

Gorman’s nomination and that of Murphy are expected to be considered by the Senate during a confirmation session that is likely to be held in September, according to the Senate president’s office.

The nominations will first be reviewed by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Committee recommendations regarding confirmation go before the Senate, where a supermajority of two-thirds or better is needed to overturn a committee recommendation.

Murphy is a partner in the law firm of Jabar, Batten, Ringer and Murphy, according to the governor’s office.

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Maine School of Law, Murphy has worked as a public defender in Montana and as an assistant district attorney in Augusta.

“Michaela Murphy has had an impressive career handling both civil and criminal cases in Maine,” Baldacci said. “She’s an experienced trial lawyer who has worked as a defense attorney and prosecutor. She will be a strong addition to the Superior Court.”

The seven-member state supreme court, headed by Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley, is based in Portland. Saufley and Calkins are the only two women on the law court bench.

The state supreme court is the governing body of the judicial branch of state government and serves as the state court of final appeal.

The Superior Court, led by Chief Justice Thomas E. Humphrey, is located in 17 courthouses around the state and is Maine’s only court where civil and criminal jury trials are held.

One Superior Court is located in each of Maine’s 16 counties, except for Aroostook County, which has two. All 17 Superior Court justices have statewide jurisdiction and travel to the different counties.

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