June 19, 2018
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Names of judge, 2 lawyers sent to Obama to become federal judge in Portland

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The names of three Maine men are being sent to President Barack Obama as possible replacements for U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal, who will take senior status on July 31.

Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jon D. Levy and attorneys William D. Robitzek of Lewiston and Jeffrey N. Young of Topsham will be forwarded to the president, U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both Democrats and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent announced Wednesday.

If Levy were to be nominated by Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gov. Paul LePage would nominate a replacement to the state’s highest court. Since his election in 2010, LePage has not had the opportunity to name a Maine Supreme Judicial Court justice.

Levy was nominated in 2002 by then-Gov. Angus King to the state’s high court, seven years after King appointed Levy a District Court judge.

The justice’s name, along with that of Portland attorney William Kayatta, was sent to the White House in May 2011 to fill a vacancy on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston when Kermit Lipez of Portland announced he would take senior status. Kayatta was nominated in January 2012 to replace Kermit Lipez on the 1st. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His confirmation, along with other appellate judges around the country, was delayed. Kayatta was confirmed last month by the U.S. Senate.

Levy declined Wednesday to comment on his name being sent to the White House again.

Young is an attorney with McTeague Higbee in Topsham, known for representing the interests of organized labor in the state. Young recently represented the five Mainers who sued LePage over the removal of a mural from the Department of Labor’s office in U.S. District Court in Bangor. In November, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld U.S. District Judge John Woodcock’s decision that the mural’s removal did not violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

“It is a sad day for all of us when our precious First Amendment freedom of speech is eroded and censorship prevails,” Young said in November of the appellate court’s decision.

If nominated and confirmed, Woodcock and Young would be colleagues.

Robitzek is a personal injury attorney at Berman & Simmons in Lewiston. In 2009, he won a $290,000 settlement for Laurie Tardiff, who opted out of a class action suit over strip searches at the Knox County Jail, according to a previously published report.

Laurie Tardiff, 44, of Thomaston, told the Bangor Daily News in October 2006 that the $11,000 U.S. District Judge Gene Carter proposed for her as lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit was “minuscule” compared to the damages she suffered as a result of being strip-searched illegally.

After withdrawing from the class-action lawsuit, Tardiff filed the new lawsuit in February 2007, nearly six years to the day after she was illegally strip-searched. The settlement in the new case was reached, according to court documents, on Feb. 12, 2009, five days before a jury-waived trial on damages was to have begun.

“We had an impressive slate of applicants, and the candidates that were recommended to us are extremely well qualified,” the delegation said in a press release. “We appreciate and thank the members of the screening panel for their thorough work and excellent recommendations.”

A judicial screening panel that was formed in February interviewed 14 applicants, which led to the final recommendations, the press release said.

No matter who is confirmed as the new U.S. District Court judge in Maine, Singal will maintain his chambers in Portland and continue to hear cases, according to a previously published report.

Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.

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