United States District Court for the District of Maine
The United States District Court for the District of Maine, often referred to as the District of Maine, is one of 94 United States district courts. The District of Maine was one of the original 13 district courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, even though Maine was not a separate state from Massachusetts until 1820. The court is headquartered in Portland, Maine, and has a second courthouse in Bangor, Maine. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, based in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the District of Maine.
Article III judges
|Judge Jon Levy||March 18, 1954||Portland, Maine||Obama||5/2/2014-Present||Syracuse University, B.S., 1976||West Virginia University College of Law, J.D., 1979|
|Chief judge John Woodcock||1950||Bangor, ME||W. Bush||06/16/2003-Present||2009-Present||Gene Carter||Bowdoin College, 1972||University of Maine School of Law, 1976|
|Judge Nancy Torresen||1959||Ridgewood, NJ||Obama||10/3/2011 - Present||D. Brock Hornby||Hope College, 1981||University of Michigan Law, 1987|
|Senior Judge George Singal||Clinton||7/11/2000 - 7/31/2013||2003 - 2009||7/31/2013 - Present||University of Maine, B.A., 1967||Harvard Law School, J.D., 1970|
|Senior Judge D. Brock Hornby||H.W. Bush||04/30/1990 - 05/01/2010||1996 - 2003||05/01/2010 - Present||University of Western Ontario, 1965||Harvard Law, 1969|
|Senior Judge Gene Carter||Reagan||6/23/1983-1/2/2003||1989-1996||1/2/2003-Present||University of Maine, B.A., 1958||New York University School of Law, LL.B., 1961|
|Magistrate judge John Nivison||1/27/2014-1/27/2022||Colby College, 1982||University of Maine Law, 1985|
|Magistrate Judge John Rich||4/02/2008||Bowdoin College, A.B., 1978||University of Pennsylvania Law, J.D., 1982|
The District of Maine has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Caseload Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
| • Maine’s campaign contribution limits found unconstitutional (2014)|
Judge(s):Brock Hornby (Woodhouse, et al v. Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, et al)
|Click for summary→|
|On August 22, 2014, Judge Brock Hornby ruled in favor of plaintiffs who supported a non-party candidate in a lawsuit concerning campaign contribution limits. At issue in the case was whether non-party candidates could draw contributions for both primary and general elections. Pursuant to Maine’s election laws, while party candidates were permitted to draw up to $3,000 from their donors, non-party candidates were limited to a single draw of $1,500 from each donor. Four plaintiffs filed suit against the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, contending that non-party candidates were unfairly prejudiced by the state’s law.
In his 18-page ruling, Judge Hornby noted that he “[d]id not lightly find a state statute unconstitutional,” but that those who filed suit would likely be successful in proving that they had “suffered unconstitutional discrimination as compared to contributors to party candidates.” Judge Hornby issued a preliminary injunction, effectively putting non-party candidates on the same financial footing as party candidates.
| • Environmental cleanup case over Penobscot River mercury pollution (2014)|
Judge(s):John Woodcock (Maine People's Alliance, et al v. Holtrachem Manufacturing Company, et al)
|Click for summary→|
|Judge John Woodcock is set to preside over a trial involving a decade-long battle over the cleanup of hazardous mercury deposits in the Penobscot River caused by the now defunct HoltraChem power plant. The company produced approximately 23,000 pounds of toxic mercury waste as a byproduct each year between 1967 and 1982. The trial is expected to last for up to three weeks.
In the underlying case, after losing a lawsuit in 2002, Mallinckrodt US LLC took responsibility for the pollution caused by the plant, as well as the cleanup of a small part of the Penobscot. The Maine People’s Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council allege that since that time, Mallinckrodt has delayed the cleanup process. Since the initial ruling, the Department of Marine Resources decided to indefinitely close a seven-mile stretch of the river to lobster and crab fishermen due to elevated mercury levels found in aquatic life.
In 2003, Judge Gene Carter ordered that a scientific study be conducted to determine the extent of mercury pollution present in the Penobscot. The study concluded in 2013, and its results will be used in the June 2014 trial. Mallinckrodt disagreed with the study's findings, arguing that they didn't "demonstrate a need for remediation." The plaintiffs, on the other hand, argued that the mercury contamination posed a danger to wildlife and human health. Judge Woodcock will issue a ruling in the summer of 2014.
| • GMAC Mortgage Co. case (2011)|
Judge(s):D. Brock Hornby (Nicolle Bradbury, et al. v. Gmac Mortgage, LLC., CIVIL NO. 10-458-P-H)
|Click for summary→|
|In February 2011, Judge Hornby threw out two of three counts that were brought against GMAC Mortgage Co. in a case related to "robo-signing" of documents in foreclosure proceedings. Brock said that the lawsuit could not proceed on counts related to abuse of process and fraud. However, he allowed the lawsuit to proceed on a count that robo-signing violated Maine's Unfair Trade Practices Act.|
| • Occupy Augusta protestors eviction (2011)|
Judge(s):Nancy Torresen (Freeman v. Morris, 11-cv-00452-NT)
|Click for summary→|
|In late November 2011, Judge Nancy Torresen brokered a deal that allowed Occupy Augusta protesters to remain in a public park for an additional week. Torresen issued the order on November 28, 2011, after protesters said they would rather face arrest than leave Augusta's Capitol Park. Attorney Lynne Williams, acting on behalf of the protesters, sought a temporary restraining order to prevent police from shutting down the protests. The protesters did not apply for a permit. The lawsuit alleged that requiring protesters to obtain a permit violated their First Amendment rights. A hearing to determine what would happen after the week-long reprieve took place on December 5, 2011.|
UpdateOn December 9, 2011, Torrensen ruled against the erection of the tent city in Augusta, affirming the right of the State to evict the Occupy protesters. While she held that the protesters were protected by the First Amendment, the State was within its rights to place restrictions on the time and place of the protest by requiring a permit. The protesters opted not to appeal the decision or apply for a permit, and instead broke down the camp and vacated the premises.
The District of Maine was one of the original 13 district courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. A district court was created in each of the 11 states that ratified the Constitution by September 1789, as well as in Maine (then part of Massachusetts) and Kentucky (then still part of Virginia). The court only had one judge until an additional judgeship was authorized in 1978. A third judgeship was authorized in 1990.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Maine:
|September 24, 1789||1 Stat. 73||1|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||2|
|December 1, 1990||104 Stat. 5089||3|
Former chief judges
In order to qualify for the office of chief judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as chief judge. A vacancy in the office of chief judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The chief judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a chief judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information about the judges of the District of Maine, see former federal judges of the District of Maine.
- United States District Court for the District of Maine, "Official Website" (dead link)
- United States District Court for the District of Maine, "Judges of the District of Maine"
- United States Attorney for the District of Maine, "Official Website"
- United States District Court for the District of Maine, "Opinions of the District of Maine" (dead link)
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, "Official list," accessed on October 10, 2014
- U.S. Marshals Service, "District of Maine Courthouse Locations," accessed on October 10, 2014
- Portland Press Herald, "Judge rules in Cutler’s favor on campaign contributions," August 22, 2014
- Bangor Daily News, "Prolonged legal battle over Penobscot River mercury cleanup headed to federal court," May 30, 2014
- Miami Herald, "Maine foreclosure lawsuit to proceed," February 18, 2011 (dead link)
- Portland Press Herald, "Judge lets Occupy Augusta stay another week," November 29, 2011
- Bangor Daily News, "Judge brokers deal to allow Occupy Augusta to stay in park," November 28, 2011
- Kennebec Journal, "Occupy Augusta leaving park," December 9, 2011
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the District of Maine," accessed on October 10, 2014
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
|Magistrate judges||John Nivison • John Rich •|
|Former Article III judges|
|Former Chief judges|