Acting partly in response to state Rep. Herbie Clark’s urging, state court officials will meet in Portland today to discuss the relocation of Millinocket’s District Court clerks office to Lincoln District Court’s office, Clark said Tuesday.
Clark said the move effectively would deny much of the increasingly elderly populations of East Millinocket, Medway and Millinocket needed court services, as many of those residents lack transportation.
“I am especially concerned for people who need immediate access to court services. Unfortunately, all too often victims of domestic violence require emergency civil or criminal court services,” Clark, D-Millinocket, wrote in a letter dated May 25.
“It is unconscionable that these victims might have to wait as long as a week in order to obtain the protection they need. The burden of asking them to travel to Lincoln on the days when the Millinocket District Court is closed is too much to ask of people who are fearing for their lives,” he added.
State court officials have said police can write protective orders in many circumstances, and that criminal and civil court will be held in Millinocket one or two days a week. On those days, clerks formerly there full time will be available.
The move is planned for July 1.
Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley will meet today with Mary Ann Lynch, director of court information for the state Administrative Office of the Courts in Portland, Lynch said in an e-mail to Clark.
The consolidation of clerk services comes in the wake of budget cuts and state budget shortfalls that force state officials to leave 30 to 40 positions open statewide at any one time, state officials have said.
The move saves state court administrators from having to fill 1½ court clerk positions while improving Lincoln court service, officials said.
Millinocket’s courthouse averages 1,058 cases annually to Lincoln’s 1,493. Those numbers, and the state’s need to cut expenses to account for budget shortfalls while at least maintaining efficiency, motivate the consolidation.
Millinocket leaders have opposed the consolidation for many of the same reasons cited by Clark.