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Criminal Courts in Maine

Maine District Courts

Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Saco, and Biddeford 

Maine criminal courts

The State of Maine has 28 District Courts. There are 36 judges and 13 districts. The District Court system began in Maine in 1961 when it was created by the Legislature. It tries cases involving civil (such as divorce cases and custody hearings), family matters and criminal offenses.

Most rulings made in district court can be appealed directly to the Supreme Judicial Court. District courts do not use juries during their trials. The only criminal offenses that are tried in this court system are Class D and E offenses where the offender has waives his or her right to a jury trial. District courts also hear juvenile cases and traffic infractions.

Most misdemeanor criminal offenses are heard in district court. Some common misdemeanor criminal offenses include DUI and marijuana possession. Every county in Maine has at least one district court. It is important to remember that jury trials cannot be held in district courts and you only have a limited time to request your case be moved to another court in order to have a jury trial.

District courts have 28 locations throughout the state including locations in:

  • Augusta
  • Bangor
  • Belfast
  • Biddeford
  • Bridgton
  • Calais
  • Caribou
  • Dover-Foxcroft
  • Ellsworth
  • Farmington
  • Fort Kent
  • Houlton
  • Lewiston
  • Lincoln
  • Machias
  • Madawaska
  • Millinocket
  • Newport
  • Portland
  • Presque
  • Rumford
  • Skowhegan
  • South Paris
  • Springvale
  • Waterville
  • West Bath
  • Wiscasset
  • York

The Chief Judge of Maine district courts is John A. Woodcock. He was appointed in 2003 and is stationed in Bangor. Nancy Torresen is the district judge and is also stationed in Bangor. Gene Carter, David Brock Hornby and Georgia Z. Singal are senior judges and are all stationed in Portland.

Maine Superior Courts

Maine's superior court system is made up of 17 justices whole hold court in 16 counties. One superior court can be found in all 16 counties in Maine and 2 courts are located in Aroostock County. Each judge travels around the state and holds court in each county on a rotating schedule. Superior courts hear almost every type of case with the exception of family matters, juvenile offenses and civil violations.

Superior courts are the only courts that hold jury trials, so they are generally where all criminal trials are held. Most murder cases and class A, B and C crimes utilize jury trials as well as class D and E crimes where the defendant exercises their right to a jury by trial. Superior courts also handle jury-waived trials in all classes as well as murder, post-conviction reviews and appeals.

The current chief justices of superior courts in Maine are Robert W. Clifford, Morton A. Brody, Thomas E. Delahanty II, Roland A. Cole, Margaret J. Kravchuk, Andrew A. Mead, Nancy D. Mills and Thomas E. Humphrey. All justices are nominated by the Governor of Maine and approved by the Senate and serve 7-year terms.

Maine Federal Courts

Maine has 2 federal courts. One is located in Portland and the other in Bangor. Federal crimes are seen in federal courts. The two federal courts of Maine are located:

Portland U.S. District Court, District of Maine Edward T. Gignoux U.S. Courthouse

156 Federal Street
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 780-3356

Bangor U.S. District Court, District of Maine Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building & Courthouse

202 Harlow Street
Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: (207) 945-0575

Maine Supreme Court

Created in 1820, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court is the highest court in the State and the final court for appeals. It was established when Maine separated from Massachusetts and became its own state. The Supreme Court of Maine has 7 justices including a chief justice serving has the head. The main job of this court is to hear appeals in civil and criminal trials.

When a person is found guilty of a criminal charge, they can sometimes appeal their conviction. It is the Supreme Court's job to hear these appeals and make a ruling. Their ruling will be the final word for the case. Usually, the appeal will be presented by the defendant or their attorney either orally or through written briefs. When the Supreme Court is making these rulings, it is referred to as the Law Court.

The Supreme Court also has several more responsibilities. The Court must oversee Bar admissions and conduct disciplinary hearings for lawyers and judges. It also is in charge of making procedural rules for all of the courts in Maine.

Maine Criminal Defense Lawyer

Attorney William T. Bly is an experienced criminal defense attorney who is licensed to practice law in all courts in Maine and New Hampshire including supreme courts. He can help you with all of your criminal defense needs and more. At our criminal defense firm, we understand the concerns you may have after being accused of a crime and we work hard to provide the best legal care possible. Call us now to get started.


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