Baldacci nominates judges for top courts

Posted July 30, 2010, at 4:25 p.m.
Last modified April 18, 2011, at 7:12 p.m.
Judge Robert Murray Jr.
Judge Robert Murray Jr.
Judge Ann Murray
Judge Ann Murray

BANGOR, Maine — Two District Court judges serving at the Penobscot Judicial Center were nominated Friday to the Superior Court Bench.

Gov. John E. Baldacci announced he was nominating Ann Murray and Robert Murray, who are distant cousins and both live in Bangor, along with District Court Judge MaryGay Kennedy of Brunswick, to replace Superior Court Justices Joseph Jabar of Waterville, Thomas E. Delahanty II of Falmouth and Robert Crowley of Portland.

Jabar was appointed last year to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Delahanty left the bench last month to serve as Maine’s U.S. attorney. Crowley recently retired.

“It’s an exciting day and I’m honored to have been nominated,” Ann Murray said Friday. “If confirmed, I’m looking forward to handling another variety of cases in jury and jury-waived trials.”

Ann Murray was appointed to the District Court in 1999. Since 2007, she has served as chief judge of the District Court. Before being appointed to the bench she was in private practice in Bangor and worked for the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.

Former state legislator Robert Murray was appointed to the bench in 2004 after serving as commissioner of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. He went into private practice in Bangor after serving eight years in the Legislature, four in the House and four in the Senate.

Both Murrays earned their law degrees from the University of Maine School of Law.

The governor also nominated two men and a woman — Bruce Jordan of Veazie, Patrick Ende of Hallowell and Susan Oram of Auburn — to serve as District Court judges. They would fill the slots left open by the Murrays and Kennedy.

Jordan and Oram now serve as family law magistrate judges in Bangor and Lewiston, respectively. Ende has served for the past two years as the governor’s legal counsel.

A family law magistrate is a quasi-judicial officer presiding over parental rights cases, paternity actions, child support matters and divorces involving children. They are hired by the chief judge of the District Court, not appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. A portion of magistrate judges’ salaries are paid for with federal funds, according to Ann Murray.

Before his appointment to the bench, Jordan was in private practice. He graduated from the Franklin Piece Law Center in Concord, N.H.

Even with the appointments announced Friday, there will continue to be a vacancy on the District Court bench due to the retirement Thursday of District Court Judge Bernard Staples of Hulls Cove, according to Mary Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the court system. Staples, 77, presided for more than two decades in Ellsworth.

Baldacci also nominated five District Court judges for reappointment. They are: Peter Granites of Cumberland; Charles LaVerdiere of Wilton, Robert Mullen of Waterville, Bernard O’Mara of Easton and David Griffiths of Presque Isle. Griffiths was nominated for reappointment to active retired status, which allows retired judges to work part time where needed.

Hearings before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee are expected to be held the week of Aug. 15.

A Maine Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.

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