Justice Valerie Stanfill, nominee for chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — The governor’s nominee for chief justice won praise Tuesday for her thoughtful decision making, commitment to justice and practical understanding of the courts at a time of backlogs caused by the pandemic.

The Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary unanimously endorsed Justice Valerie Stanfill’s nomination to lead the judicial branch.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Stanfill would become the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice.

The first woman to hold that post, Leigh Saufley, heaped praise on the judge who would succeed her, telling the panel that Stanfill “has a solid focus on the reality of justice as well as the logistics.”

“She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about the administration of justice in different counties, and different courthouses. She understands how to work with clerks, through the bar and the public,” she said.

Stanfill would step into the role at a time in which most case categories have massive backlogs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She told committee members that she could think of “no greater honor, calling, privilege or responsibility.”

Stanfill said she’d draw upon her experiences as a judge, an attorney and a law school professor. She also slipped in a lighthearted reference to her experiences as an outdoorswoman.

“I would not be the first woman in Maine to serve as chief justice… but I would be the first first woman to serve as chief justice who harvested a moose, a deer and a turkey in one year,” she said.