Maine governor announces two supreme court appointments

Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) appointed appellate attorney Catherine Connors and Maine Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Connors and Horton were the governor’s first and second nominees to the seven-member supreme court. Pending confirmation from the Maine State Senate, they will succeed Justices Jeffrey Hjelm and Donald Alexander.

Connors is an appellate lawyer with Pierce Atwood, where she handles civil and criminal litigation matters in federal and state courts. Before joining Pierce Atwood, Connors was a law clerk for Chief Judge John F. Grady of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Connors obtained her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Northwestern University in 1981. She earned a J.D., cum laude, from the Northwestern University School of Law, where she was Order of the Coif, in 1984. During her legal studies, Connors was on the editorial board of the Northwestern University Law Review.

Horton is a superior court justice for the Cumberland County Superior Court in Maine. Gov. John Baldacci (D) first appointed Horton to this court in January 2007. Horton was a judge on the Maine District Courts from 1999 to 2007. He received an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University.

Selection of state supreme court judges in Maine occurs through gubernatorial appointment with Senate confirmation. Whether newly appointed or reappointed, judges serve seven-year terms. Appointed judges must be reappointed if they wish to serve additional terms.

Founded in 1820, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. As of January 2020, two judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor, two by a Republican governor, and two by an independent governor. There was one vacancy on the court.

In 2020, there have been three supreme court vacancies in three of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements. In 2019, there were 22 supreme court vacancies across 14 of the 29 states. Retirements caused 14 of the vacancies.

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Additional reading:
Maine Supreme Court justice vacancy (December 2019)
State supreme court vacancies, 2020
Maine Supreme Court
Judicial selection in Maine
Judges appointed by Janet Mills