AUGUSTA, Maine — A veteran Penobscot County prosecutor whose father served on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court was nominated Monday to be a District Court judge.
Deputy District Attorney Michael P. Roberts, 60, of Bangor is one of four lawyers nominated by Gov. Paul LePage. His father, David G. Roberts, served 18 years on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and 13 years as a Superior Court Justice. The elder Roberts died in January 1999, just five months after retiring from the state’s high court.
“It means a lot that I am following in my father’s footsteps,” Michael Roberts said Monday between cases at the Penobscot Judicial Center. “It would have been nice to have my parents here when this happened. I think that I’m older and wiser now than when I first applied [for a judgeship]. I think I’m more experienced now, and this is probably the right period of my life for this to happen.”
He first applied to be a judge about 25 years ago. He has been a prosecutor in Penobscot County for about 30 years.
Roberts, a Democrat, said he learned Friday that he would be nominated.
“This governor has appointed prosecutors before, including Evert Fowle, Eric Walker, Bill Stokes, Greg Campbell and Jeff Hjelm,” he said. “Also, he’s shown that he would cross political lines to make appointments, so I was hopeful this time.”
Fowle was the Democratic district attorney for Kennebec and Penobscot counties when he was nominated to the District Court bench.
“I’m very happy for him,” Roberts’ boss, R. Christopher Almy, district attorney for Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, said Monday. “He deserves it. He has a great temperament and will be a good judge.”
Also nominated Monday to be District Court judges are: Jed J. French, a managing law partner in a Freeport firm; and Maria A. Woodman and Paul D. Mathews, both magistrate judges, who handle family matters.
French, 50, of Yarmouth has handled cases ranging from unemployment compensation to business dissolution and real estate disputes to criminal cases, as well as personal injury and family matters.
Woodman, 52, of Monmouth has been a magistrate judge since 2012. Before that, she worked in the Division of Child Support and MaineCare Crimes Unit in the Maine attorney general’s office.
Mathews, age unknown, of Newcastle has been a magistrate judge since 1998. Before becoming a judge, he worked as a prosecutor in Kennebec and Sagadahoc counties.
On Monday, LePage also nominated Superior Court Justice Paul A. Fritzsche to move to active retired status, according to a news release issued by LePage’s office. Fritzsche, 65, of Kennebunk has served on the bench for 29 years.
The vacancies on the District Court bench were created after Wayne R. Douglas, Bruce C. Mallonee and Lance E. Walke were elevated to the Superior Court bench.
After Monday’s announcement, there still are three vacancies on the District Court bench, including two new positions created by the Legislature. Fritzsche’s move to active retired status creates a vacancy on the Superior Court bench.
“As governor, I have the utmost respect for those serving in the judicial branch,” LePage said in the news release. “In choosing judges, my focus is on the qualifications, demeanor and integrity of the candidates. These nominees reflect those priorities. I am confident that these nominees will live up to the high standards we expect from Maine judges.”
LePage has threatened not to make nominations to boards but said he would nominate judges.
Judicial nominations must be considered at public hearings by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee within 35 days of nominations and confirmed by the Senate within 50 days.