June 28, 2022

Maine Senate confirms Rick Lawrence to the state’s highest courtroom

The Maine Senate manufactured history Tuesday when customers voted unanimously to ensure District Choose Rick Lawrence to the state’s highest courtroom.

Lawrence will be the first Black justice to sit on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court docket. His affirmation came days following a favorable recommendation from the Joint Standing Committee of the Judiciary.

“I am deeply honored by the possibility to serve on the Maine Supreme Judicial Courtroom, an appointment that comes with formidable accountability and unparalleled prospect to provide the men and women of our great condition,” Lawrence explained in a statement released by Gov. Janet Mills’ business. “I assure to operate tirelessly to provide the people today of Maine and to administer justice quite and impartially to the persons of Maine, just as they are worthy of.”

Lawrence has been a district judge given that 2000, when he was the initially Black guy appointed to the bench in Maine. He has expended extra than two many years presiding about countless numbers of cases in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, working with housing, crime, domestic relations, monetary damages and household law.

In April 2020, he grew to become deputy chief of the District Courts, having responsibility for dealing with staffing shortages, public safety fears and technological innovation needs that arose all through the pandemic.

He acquired his bachelor’s diploma in political science from Yale College and a law degree from Harvard Legislation University. Prior to Harvard, Lawrence worked for huge firms, which includes Procter & Gamble and Prudential. Immediately after law faculty, he joined a person of Maine’s most prominent legal firms, then identified as Pierce Atwood, Scribner, Allen, Smith & Lancaster, and was an legal professional for UnumProvident Existence Coverage Co.

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Mills announced Lawrence as her nominee in early March. Just after the Senate’s vote Tuesday, she mentioned that Lawrence will be an “exceptional” justice.

“I am honored to have produced this historic nomination, and I congratulate Choose Lawrence on his affirmation. I imagine his company on our optimum court docket will considerably profit the people today of Maine,” Mills reported in the statement from her office environment.

Throughout his confirmation hearing Friday in entrance of the Judiciary Committee, Lawrence recalled for Maine lawmakers his upbringing in western Massachusetts throughout the civil rights motion. He reported he was drawn to court docket conditions from the motion that had a immediate influence on his loved ones and other people today of color.

Lawrence also shared with lawmakers his working experience operating on situations dealing with relatives issues. As chair of the Maine Judicial Branch’s advisory committee on kids and people, Lawrence assisted kind the state’s guardian advert litem method, ensuring authorized representation for little ones in the courts.

Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, instructed senators Tuesday that Lawrence has “shared his kindness, intelligence and knowledge with Mainers” for the duration of some of the most challenging moments of their lives.

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Sen. Trey Stewart, R-Presque Isle, told senators that he was a scholar in a course that Lawrence taught at the College of Maine College of Legislation on district courts.

“I undoubtedly realized a lot from Choose Lawrence in that capability, and I know that he’s exceptionally nicely-regarded by the Maine Bar,” Stewart explained.

And Sen. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop, examine Lawrence’s application letter to the governor out loud just before sharing his possess activities in family court with the Senate. Hickman is the very first Black lawmaker in Maine to serve in each the Residence and Senate.

“Judge Lawrence has decades of practical experience in the courtroom that is close to and dear to my coronary heart, as an adoptee,” Hickman said. “I know the important importance of spouse and children court docket companies, in particular to safeguard all our children from neglect and abuse. It delivers pure joy to my heart to see these kinds of an esteemed prospect nominated for this posture.”

Hickman and others have referenced the affirmation previous week of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, where by she will be the very first Black girl to serve.

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Lawrence and Mills visited equally Legislative chambers Tuesday early morning. Following the vote in the Senate, the two built a surprise check out to the Home ground.

Following remaining introduced by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, Lawrence walked with Mills to the entrance of the Dwelling and been given an prolonged standing ovation from lawmakers on equally sides of the aisle.

Mills will swear Lawrence in afterwards this thirty day period. This is her fourth nominee to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court docket due to the fact getting business office in 2019. The Senate has verified all of her nominees, including that of Main Justice Valerie Stanfill in 2021.

Staff Writer Randy Billings contributed to this report.

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