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Maine chief justice says case backlogs ‘harm her coronary heart’

Maine’s backlog of prison courtroom instances stays about 60% to 65% increased than pre-pandemic ranges, a cussed determine the state has been unable to scale back over two years, the state’s chief justice mentioned Thursday.

The first trigger is the shortcoming to carry jury trials early within the pandemic, however different elements embrace the opioid epidemic and psychological well being problems, youngster protecting instances, and a giant improve in felony crimes, essentially the most severe prison instances that take longer to resolve, Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill informed lawmakers.

“Judicial department workers are feeling the burden of the conclusion that appears it doesn’t matter what we do, we will’t catch up. We will’t deal with our backlog. Frankly, it hurts my coronary heart,” she mentioned.


Stanfill used her State of the Judiciary deal with to the Maine Legislature to advertise the governor’s funds proposal that features 4 new judges and extra clerks and marshals.

Stanfill mentioned she’s additionally requesting a pay improve for judges past a 3% price of dwelling adjustment, telling lawmakers that the state’s judges are among the many nation’s lowest.

She informed lawmakers that there are numerous elements behind the backlog and famous that the judicial system was strained earlier than the pandemic exacerbated the variety of pending instances. Moreover, courtroom officers are spending a better period of time looking for legal professionals keen to symbolize indigent purchasers, she mentioned.


“The pandemic was the tipping level that unmasked the truth that even earlier than 2020, the courts and judicial system have been straining to maintain up with the demand of instances,” she mentioned.

On different matters, the chief justice mentioned the rollout of an e-filing system that was purported to be applied statewide final yr has been delayed due to “hitches and points” together with the truth that Maine has nation’s solely courtroom system utilizing an Apple-based pc system, which should be swapped.

The Enterprise and Shopper Courtroom in Portland and the civil and household docket in Bangor are the one courts utilizing the system, however the household and civil dockets within the Lewiston District Courtroom and Androscoggin Superior Courtroom in Auburn will probably be introduced on-line later this yr, she mentioned.

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