District Court Judge Rick E. Lawrence was nominated on Monday to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court by Gov. Janet Mills. The 22-year veteran of the state's legal system would be the Black justice on the state's high court. Credit: Courtesy of the governor's office

Gov. Janet Mills announced Monday she has nominated Rick Lawrence to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, who would be the first Black justice on high the court if he is confirmed.

Lawrence, 66, is a veteran District Court judge, serving 22 years mostly in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties. He has presided over a diversion program in those counties and Androscoggin County’s domestic violence monitoring program.

Lawrence would be replacing Associate Justice Ellen Gorman, who announced plans to retire last winter. He is the fourth judge Mills has nominated for Maine’s high court since. The nomination is subject to the approval of the Legislature’s judiciary committee and the Maine Senate.

He was first nominated to the district court in 2000 by independent Gov. Angus King. Lawrence chaired a judicial branch advisory committee that created the guardian ad litem program, which advocates for children in family court proceedings.

Lawrence has spoken about the need for more diversity within Maine’s judicial branch, saying the state and its law school needs to be more aggressive in recruiting students of color. He was the state’s only Black jurist when he was initially named to the bench.