Judiciary Committee backs nomination of Orono lawyer as judge

Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm
Robert F. Bukaty | BDN
Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 04, 2012, at 2:41 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously recommended that an Orono lawyer be confirmed as a District Court judge.

John B. Lucy, 47, told members of the committee that he expected the skills he has used over the past 22 years as an attorney in Bangor to transfer to the judicial branch.

“Just about anything under the sun that gets people brought into court in civil cases I’ve dealt with,” he said. “I think government touches people most perceptively and directly in the courtroom.”

Lucy is a partner at Richardson, Whitman, Large and Badger in Bangor, where he has specialized in civil law since 1990. He is a graduate of the University of Maine, where he played on the football team, and the University of Maine School of Law.

“I’m excited about the challenges of being a judge and the opportunity to help people see a problem through to a fair and successful conclusion,” he said.

Steve Abbott, athletic director at the University of Maine, appeared before the committee to support Lucy’s nomination. A lawyer who no longer practices, Abbott said he and Lucy grew up together and were roommates in law school.

“John has a keen interest in history,” Abbott said. “I tell you that to highlight the sincere respect he has for the values that informed the foundation of our government.”

Lucy also is committed to the Orono community and has coached youth football and basketball, the athletic director told the committee.

On Tuesday, the committee also cleared four sitting Superior Court justices and one active retired Superior Court justice for reappointment to the bench.

Justices Jeffrey Hjelm of Camden, Thomas Humphrey of Sanford, Thomas Warren of Brunswick, Joyce A. Wheeler of South Portland and Carl O. Bradford of Yarmouth were the first of nine judges renominated last month by Gov. Paul LePage to appear before the committee.

In addition to the Superior Court judges, LePage renominated Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justices Donald Alexander and Warren Silver and District Court Judges Keith Powers and Kevin Stitham.

In addition to Lucy, Daniel Billings, who is LePage’s legal counsel, was nominated to serve as a District Court judge. The vacancies proposed to be filled by Billings and Lucy were created by the retirements of District Court Judges Jessie Gunther and Ralph Tucker.

Hearings on the remaining nominees are scheduled to be held Wednesday. The Senate is scheduled to hold confirmation votes on the nominations on Thursday.

According to a press release LePage issued last month, most of the appointees have long histories of serving the court system:

• Justice Alexander has been a judge since 1978 and was promoted to the Superior Court bench in 1980. In 1998, he was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court after nominations by Govs. Angus King and John Baldacci.

• Silver has been a member of the Law Court since 2005.

• Hjelm was appointed a District Court judge in 1992 and became a Superior Court justice in 1998.

• Humphrey, who has been chief justice of the Superior Court since 2004, was appointed to the District Court in 1993 and moved to the Superior Court in 1998.

• Warren has served the Superior Court since 1998.

• Wheeler joined the state’s Administrative Court in 1994 and became a District Court judge in 1999. She moved to the Superior Court system in 2005.

• Bradford served the Superior Court system from 1981 through 1998, when he became an active retired justice.

• Powers has served the District Court system since 1998.

• Stitham has served on the District Court bench since 1998.

• Billings, a resident of Bowdoinham, has served as LePage’s chief legal counsel since January 2011. Before that, he was a partner at Marden, Dubord, Bernier and Stevens in Waterville, where he focused on civil litigation and criminal defense. Billings, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine and University of Maine School of Law, where he graduated second in his class, also has been involved with Republican causes, including a stint as the Maine Republican Party’s legal counsel and as a member of LePage’s transition team. He also was a member of the Bowdoinham Board of Selectmen in recent years.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/09/04/news/state/judiciary-committee-votes-to-reappoint-3-justices-to-superior-court/ printed on September 21, 2014