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Maine chief justice visits Machias courthouse

Posted Sept. 28, 2009, at 3:22 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court toured the Washington County courthouse Monday afternoon, and said she appreciated the beauty and history of the landmark courthouse while also recognizing the need for safety and efficiency enhancements.

Last session the Legislature approved $12 million for Washington County court renovations, and on her tour Monday, Saufley saw the need for herself.

Standing outside looking at the exterior of the historical Machias building, Saufley said “This courthouse is really the focal point of justice in Washington County. It is a gorgeous courthouse but we need it to work for today’s system.”

She said she found similar inefficiencies at Calais, where the building has been plagued with leaks.

“The courtroom is small and there are no privacy areas,” she said. “Storage of records is also a very serious problem.”

At Machias, the building is also not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act for handicapped accessibility.

“The technology in both places is woefully behind,” she said. “The setup of the buildings make it very difficult to make the courthouses safe for the public.”

Saufley is scheduled to visit the Penobscot Tribal Court on Indian Island at 9 a.m. Tuesday with Rep. Wayne Mitchell, the Penobscot Nation’s representa-tive in the Legislature. She also will tour 3rd District Court in Newport at noon with Rep. Joshua Tardy, R-Newport.

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