Maine court nominees endorsed by Judiciary Committee

Posted Aug. 17, 2010, at 2:15 p.m.

AUGUSTA — Several of Gov. John Baldacci’s judicial nominees breezed over a major hurdle on Tuesday toward final Senate confirmation for new or elevated terms.

The Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the appointments of District Judges Ann Murray of Bangor, Margery Kennedy of Brunswick and Robert Murray Jr. of Bangor to the Superior Court bench. Ann Murray is chief judge of the District Court.

Receiving unanimous votes of approval for reappointments as District Court judges were Peter Granites of Cumberland, Charles LaVerdiere of Wilton, Robert Mullen of Waterville and Bernard O’Mara of Easton.

Terms for District and Superior court judges are seven years.

During Tuesday’s hearing, lawmakers voiced concerns about crowded dockets, bail conditions and caseload management.

Judge Charles LaVerdiere, asked about the timeliness of rulings, said he has a personal policy to issue rulings within 30 days of hearings. He said the court also monitors the time it takes to issue rulings so judges can get extra time to complete their findings in difficult cases.

“We have to be mindful that … there are just shy of 300,000 cases in Maine a year,” LaVerdiere told the committee. For the roughly 150,000 cases that require hearings or go to trial, there are just over 50 District and Superior court judges.

Other committees on Tuesday took up nominations to the Pesticides Control Board, Harness Racing Commission, Land for Maine’s Future Board, Milk Commission, Public Employees Retirement System Board, Workers’ Compensation Board and Labor Relations Board. Additional hearings on four District Court nominations and others to various boards are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The Senate is scheduled to take up all the nominations in a confirmation session Aug. 25.

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