PORTLAND, Maine — Superior Court Justice Roland A. Cole has been named chief justice of the Superior Court by Leigh I. Saufley, chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
Cole replaces the former chief justice, Thomas Humphrey, who was sworn in last week by Gov. Paul LePage as an associate justice on the state supreme court.
Humphrey of Sanford was nominated to replace Warren Silver of Bangor, who retired in December.
Cole has presided over several high profile murder trials during his nearly three decades as a Superior Court judge. On June 5, Cole sentenced Merrill “Mike” Kimball, 72, of Yarmouth to 25 years in prison for murdering Leon Kelley, 63, of Georgetown in October 2013 at a North Yarmouth bee farm.
“I am delighted to announce that Justice Roland A. Cole has agreed to serve as chief justice of the Superior Court effective June 10, 2015,” Saufley said Tuesday in a press release. “We are very fortunate that a judge with his skills and experience is willing to take on the responsibilities of the chief justice of the Superior Court.”
Cole was appointed to the District Court bench in 1981 by Gov. Joseph E. Brennan, the press release said. He was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1986 by Brennan.
Cole previously served as chief justice of the Superior Court from June 1995 to June 1997. Superior Courts handle the most serious crimes and civil cases.
Cole will have to cut back on his trial work because of the demands of the administrative position, Mary Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the court system, said Tuesday.