The chief justice of the Maine Supreme Court resigned after nearly 20 years as head of the state court system.
Leigh I. Saufley will take control of only Maine law school next week.
Saufley, 65, from Portland declined to comment on his new job, but was expected to start working as dean on April 15. He took over the Law School of the University of Maine at Portland when it was necessary to dramatically change the way he worked to stay afloat, according to a July report requested at the school’s future by the supervisory board of the University of Maine System.
The report is recommended more funding for law schools, expanding online learning and more partnerships in rural Maine. In recent years, law schools have struggled financially and had to find reserve funds from the system to meet operational costs. He also said that the next dean needed to be “outward-looking, visionary, and brave” to reposition law schools to succeed.
He will also work to implement it fully University of Maine Graduate and Professional Centers. The center includes a master of business administration program at the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine, Maine Law School and the University of Southern Maine Muskie postgraduate program in Public Services and the Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy.
Peter Mills, a 1973 Maine law graduate, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, a former legislator and brother of Governor Janet Mills, was a member of the search committee that recommended Saufley.
“He is exactly the kind of person that law school needs right now,” he said. “Everyone knows him. He will be a star in attracting leading students. And, he will inspire people to go to this law school. “
Mills said that Saufley would report to Chancellor Dannel P. Malloy rather than Glenn Cummings, president of the University of Southern Maine, as the previous dean had done.
Saufley replaces Danielle Conway, who left in June to lead the Dickinson Penn State Law School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, after four years in Portland. Dmitry Bam, dean of law school, has served as temporary dean since July 1.
Saufley’s legacy as chief justice includes the modernization of the state court system including combining District and High Court operations in one building. During his tenure, 45 court facilities were consolidated into 35, he told lawmakers in January in his annual address to the Legislature.
New courthouses have been built in Augusta, Bangor and Belfast, with one in Biddeford being planned under his leadership which will open in 2022. Renovations and / or additions of courthouses in Dover-Foxcroft, Houlton, Machias, South Paris and other communities are permitted for efficient operations.
Saufley advocated for decades filtering full-time entries in the state court house. He said in January that filtering equipment was in every court building and was managed by about 65 percent of state court days. Courthouses in major Maine cities such as Bangor, Portland and Augusta have full-time entry screening.
One of the tasks that has not been completed is its task Full implementation of the electronic case filing system. Maine is the last state in the country that does not offer online access to court documents. This pilot program will be implemented in Penobscot and Piscataquis countries this fall, but a coronavirus outbreak might force it to be postponed.
Saufley, who grew up in Portland, graduated from law school in 1980 after graduating from the University of Maine. He worked in the Maine Attorney General’s Office for 10 years before being appointed as a District Court judge in 1990 by Governor John McKernan. Three years later, he appointed him to the High Court bench.
Then Governor Angus King appointed Saufley to the state high court in 1997. On December 6, 2001, she was appointed as Maine’s first female court chief after Daniel Wathen resigned to run for governor. He was nominated back to his next term by governors John Baldacci and Paul LePage.
Saufley recommends that more women be appointed as judges.
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