The only judge from Maine on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will assume senior status later this year and the search to replace him has begun.

Appellate Judge Kermit Lipez, 69, of South Portland has been a First Circuit judge since 1998. He said Friday that he plans to transition from active status on Dec. 31 or when his successor is confirmed but will maintain a full caseload.

Although Lipez sent a letter to President Obama earlier this year announcing his intentions, the judge’s decision did not became public until Friday when U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree announced the formation of a committee to recommend his replacement.

“Senior status is not retirement,” Lipez said Friday from his office in the Edward T. Gignoux United States Courthouse in Portland. “I’m not retiring and I’ve indicated this to my chief judge and to the president and to the congressional delegation. [Senior status] means that over time, I can gradually reduce my work schedule and, possibly, devote more time to teaching and writing.”

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Boston, is a six-member court that considers cases on appeal from U.S. District Courts in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.

Lipez was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in August 1997 while on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Lipez replaced Judge Conrad K. Cyr, 78, of Bangor.

“I will turn 70 in August,” Lipez said, “and I think there is an upspoken but sound tradition in Maine that that is the time for a change in status. It is a privilege to do this work and I think the privilege should be shared with others.”

In a press release, Michaud and Pingree announced a selection committee made up of nine members.

The deadline for candidates to submit application materials for consideration is 5 p.m. Thursday, April 21. “Once again, we are honored that such a diverse and distinguished group of individuals has agreed to serve on this screening panel to assist us in finding the best candidate for this critically important vacancy,” Michaud and Pingree said. “We are also extremely pleased that Peter DeTroy [of Portland], an attorney respected by both lawyers and judges in the federal and state systems, agreed to chair this screening panel on our behalf.”

Others on the committee are Michael T. Bigos of Lewiston, Jack Comart of Augusta, Toby Dilworth of Portland, Catherine Greenleaf of Gorham, Christopher D. Nylan of Augusta, Dawn Pelletier of Bangor, Leanne Robbin or Augusta and Deidre Smith of Portland.

All interested candidates should submit a cover letter highlighting qualifications, a resume and no more than three letters of reference, the press release said.

Candidates should call Peter Chandler in Michaud’s office at 202-225-6306 or Jackie Potter in Pingree’s office at 207-774-5019 for instructions on how to electronically submit application materials.