October 18, 2018
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Senate confirms Maine judge to federal court

Courtesy of the Office of Susan Collins
Courtesy of the Office of Susan Collins
Judge Lance Walker

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed the nomination of Superior Court Justice Lance Walker to be a federal judge in Maine.

Walker, 46, of Falmouth, who was nominated in April by President Donald Trump to replace U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock Jr. Walker, was unanimously endorsed for confirmation by the Judiciary Committee in June.

“During his nearly two decades of experience as both an attorney in private practice and as a judge in Maine’s judicial system, Justice Walker has demonstrated that he has the intelligence, temperament, and integrity required for this important position,” U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said in a joint statement issued after the vote. “Justice Walker has made numerous contributions to Maine’s legal community and will serve our state well as a federal judge. We are pleased that the Senate unanimously approved his nomination.”

Federal judges are appointed for life. His annual salary will be $208,000, according to the federal court system’s website. His current salary is $125,632, according to the administrative office of the courts.

Walker is expected to preside regularly in federal court in Bangor. He could begin working next week.

Woodcock, 68, who now lives in the Portland area, went on active senior status last summer, creating the vacancy on the federal court bench. Judges are allowed to move to active senior status after they have reached the age of 65 and been on the bench for 15 years.

Walker’s rise to the federal bench has been rapid. He was nominated to the state District Court bench in early 2014 by Gov. Paul LePage and unanimously confirmed. He became a Superior Court justice in November 2015.

He was tentatively scheduled in December to preside over the most high-profile case of his judicial career — the manslaughter trial of a hunter charged in the death of 34-year-old Karen Wrentzel in Hebron. She was shot and killed on the opening day of residents-only deer hunting season last year while digging on her own land.

Robert Trundy, 39, of Hebron pleaded not guilty in January at the Oxford County Courthouse in South Paris to one count each of manslaughter and failure to render aid at the Oxford County Courthouse in South Paris. He remains free on $2,500 bail.

A new judge will be assigned to the case after Walker is sworn in as a federal judge.

Before being appointed to the bench, Walker worked for more than a dozen years in the Portland law firm Norman, Hanson & DeTroy as a trial and appellate attorney as well as a legal consultant specializing in complex litigation and insurance law. He became a partner after six years.

Walker was born in Milo and raised in Dover-Foxcroft, where his parents owned and operated a hardware store and travel agency. His father was also an engineer on the Canadian Pacific Railway in Brownville Junction. After graduating from Foxcroft Academy in 1990, Walker attended the University of Maine — where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy — and the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.

Walker lives in Falmouth with his wife, Heidi, and their two daughters, Ava and Dylan.

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