Gov. Janet Mills has named four people to serve as District Court judges, and she’s named a District Court judge to the Superior Court bench. But the governor has yet to name a new chief justice to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court about nine months after that job became vacant.
Mills quietly posted the nominations on Jan. 20, the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Maine judges serve seven-year terms and are routinely renominated for subsequent terms. Their nomination hearings before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee will be held later this month.
Mills appointed James Martemucci of Arundel, Sarah Churchill of Windham and Sarah Gilbert of Hope to the District Court bench. All three are experienced trial attorneys.
They will replace District Court Judges Nancy Carlson in Farmington, Paul Mathews in Rockland and Valerie Stanfill in Waterville. Stanfill is now a Superior Court justice.
In Aroostook County, Mills named Magistrate Judge Robert Langner of Fort Fairfield to replace former District Court Judge Stephen Nelson, who joined the Superior Court last year. Nelson took over for Superior Court Justice Harold Stewart II, who now presides in Cumberland County.
Mills last month also appointed District Court Judge Robert Mulhern of Falmouth to the Superior Court bench.
The governor also renominated Charles Dow of Winthrop and Rick Lawrence of Portland to the District Court bench. Dow was first confirmed in January 2007. Lawrence, Maine’s only Black judge, has been on the bench since 2000.
Mills has not yet named a replacement for former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley, who left the court to become Dean of the University of Maine School of Law in April 2020. Justice Andrew Mead of Bangor has been serving as acting chief justice since then.
Mead’s term on Maine’s high court is up in March. Then-Gov. John Baldacci nominated him to the state supreme court in March 2007. Before that he served 15 years as a Superior Court justice and, prior to that, two years as a District Court judge.