The Maine Supreme Judicial Court & The Maine Judiciary (The 200th Anniversary)
In recognition of the 60th Anniversary of the Recreation of the Maine District Court and the University of Maine School of Law.
In 2019, the State of Maine and the Maine Judiciary each were planning celebrations of the 200th Anniversary of Maine becoming a State, separating from Massachusetts on March 15, 1820, and the creation of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on July 1, 1820. As its part of the celebrations, the Supreme Judicial Court anticipated a session in the late Spring or Summer with the Court, the Governor, and other presenters commemorating the history and anticipating the future of the Maine Courts and the Justice System. This history was originally planned to be presented to support that session. Preparation began with the encouragement, support, and assistance of Leigh I. Saufley, then Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, Derek P. Langhauser, then Counsel to Governor, and Paul H. Mills, a Farmington attorney and one of Maine’s preeminent legal historians.
This history of the Maine Judiciary examines the evolution of court organization and administration and significant legal issues before the courts over past two centuries, and addresses how the courts have met challenges presented in large part competently, impartially, ethically, and independently. It has been prepared to recognize the occasion of the 200th Anniversary of the creation of the State of Maine, separate from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on March 15, 1820, followed by the creation of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, with its first Chief Justice and two Associate Justices, appointed and taking office July 1, 1820.
Chapters I through X address the changes and challenges of the Maine Justice System for the Supreme Judicial Court, the Maine trial courts, and the Maine Federal Courts and some of the judges who have served on those courts. However, the Justices and Judges who have served and now serve on those courts are not listed and addressed comprehensively in any one place. That listing, with some biographical information, for the judges who have served and now serve on the State and Federal Courts in Maine in the past two centuries is provided in Part Two of this history.Published September 2021. ISBN: 9781737776741
Donald G. Alexander was appointed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1998. He previously served on the Maine Superior Court and the Maine District Court and as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of Maine. He served in Washington, D.C. as an assistant to Maine Senator Edmund S. Muskie and as Legislative Counsel for the National League of Cities. Justice Alexander is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the University of Chicago Law School.
Alexander is the author of several practice books, including: The Maine Jury Instruction Manual (2022 ed.) first published in 1985; Maine Appellate Practice (5th. ed. 2018) first published in 2003; and The Maine Rules of Unified Criminal Procedure with Advisory Notes and Comments (2017 ed.).
Alexander was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maine School of Law from 2007 to 2014 and a member of the faculty of the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop from 1980 to 2009. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Cleaves Law Library since 1998 and the Continuing Legal Education Committee of the Maine State Bar Association since 1992.
Alexander retired January 31, 2020. His total judicial service, 41 years, 1 month, and 3 days, is the longest active service in the State courts. Since retirement, Alexander has been appointed a Maine Commissioner of the Uniform Law Commission, a member of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, and the Chair of the 2021 Apportionment Commission.
“How do you find a book on the 200 year history of a court system that reads like a page-turner and keeps one reading far beyond the allotted time? You read Justice Donald G. Alexander’s newly published book: The Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the Maine Judiciary The 200th Anniversary.
Writing in his own personal style, straight to the point, brief and declarative, Justice Alexander has captured key historic facts in the evolution of the Maine Courts along with the waves of cultural changes. And he has done so at exactly the right time. The 200th Anniversary of the State of Maine, and consequently its Courts, arrived in the midst of a global pandemic. Celebrations, lectures on history, and visits to the places that make Maine special all had to be postponed. As the pandemic dragged on, Justice Donald G. Alexander determined that the most effective way to commemorate 200 years of court history would be to write the book, and The Maine Judiciary is the result.
From his unflinching review of the shameful racism of the earliest courts, to his detailed history of the rapid changes in the courts that unfolded from the early 1960s through the 1980s, and into the rapid pivot to a significantly distanced form of justice in response to the arrival of the pandemic, Justice Alexander’s The Maine Judiciary provides not just historical information but a rich array of other sources for those seeking to dive further into the development of Maine’s system of justice. I am pleased to recommend The Maine Judiciary, and I remind the reader: sometimes the best parts are in the footnotes!”
~ Leigh I. Saufley, Dean, University of Maine School of Law
"If there is to be a Mount Rushmore of Maine’s judicial icons, Don Alexander would be on it. So, when Justice Alexander retired a couple of years ago, his many admirers and protégés anticipated that Don would be delivering another tour de force.
They will not be disappointed. His 200-year history of Maine’s judicial system is, even by the high standards set in his 41-year judicial career, a prodigious accomplishment.
It will be the foremost reference for decades if not centuries to come. No library, no bookstore, nor any law office in Maine would be complete without it.
~ Paul H. Mills, Mills & Mills