McKusick, retired Maine chief justice, dies at 93

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PORTLAND (AP) — Vincent McKusick, a former Maine chief justice who was appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to decide several cases after his retirement, died Thursday. He was 93.

McKusick, who died in Falmouth, was elected Harvard Law Review president and served more than two decades in private practice before being appointed chief justice in 1977 by independent Gov. James Longley.

Leigh Saufley, the current chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, said he served as a role model known both for his kindness as well as his keen intellect.

“He was an absolutely brilliant man but he was the kindest and most collegial and gentlemanly jurist I had the pleasure of appearing before,” Saufley said. “He treated everyone with the absolute respect that we’ve come to expect from the best jurists. He was a role model of every one of us.”

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Former Gov. John McKernan and his wife, former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, described him in a statement as a man of “of great integrity, modesty, and kindness.”

McKusick served in the Army, working on the Manhattan Project during World War II, before earning degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Law School. After retiring from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1992, he served as a special master on several cases including a dispute over water rights on a river between Kansas and Nebraska.

His twin brother, Dr. Victor A. McKusick, also had a distinguished career. Victor McKusick was a key architect of the Human Genome Project and a genetics professor at Johns Hopkins University. He died in 2008 at 86.

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