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York County judge confirmed for Maine Supreme Court vacancy

The state Senate has confirmed York County judge Wayne Douglas as the next associate justice of Maine's Supreme Judicial Court.

The Senate voted 26-1 on Thursday to approve Douglas' nomination, one day after he received a strong, bipartisan recommendation from a legislative committee. Douglas most recently served as a Superior Court justice and was first nominated to the District Court bench in 2002 by former Gov. Angus King. He has also presided over York County's drug treatment and recovery court

Justice Wayne Douglas
Justice Wayne Douglas

"I've always been impressed with both his knowledge of the law, his courtroom demeanor, the way he treated everyone fairly," says Sen. Donna Bailey from Saco, who says she has practiced in front of Douglas for several decades.

During his hearing before the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Douglas acknowledged the significant challenges facing Maine’s judicial system, including a severe backlog of criminal cases, a shortage of court-appointed attorneys for low-income defendants and a large number of people in the judicial system with mental health and substance use disorders. He said improving access to justice requires the court system to “continually question, examine and evolve what we do and how we do it.”

"In the end, we are all working to deliver justice fairly, impartially and humanely for people and all that they care about,” Douglas told lawmakers. “It's been an honor for me to play a small part in this process, and I would welcome the opportunity to continue in the role of associate justice on the Supreme Court.”

The 71-year-old Old Orchard Beach resident is Gov. Janet Mills' fifth appointment to the seven-member Law Court. He will fill a vacancy created last year by the retirement of Associate Justice Thomas Humphrey.