Gerald Rodman was appointed to his position in 1990.

AUGUSTA (AP) – Gerald Rodman, the court-appointed overseer of the Augusta Mental Health Institute consent degree, is retiring.

Rodman has been the face of court control over much of Maine’s mental health system for the past dozen years.

“I have many mixed feelings about leaving the job,” Rodman told the Kennebec Journal. “I’m going to miss contributing to the growth and improvement of the mental health system.”

An amateur grape breeder, he said he plans to take some time to decide on his future professional plans.

Rodman’s departure could open the way for a new court master, a more powerful court receiver or some other structure fashioned to take more control over future compliance.

Rodman, 58, was appointed in November 1990 as court master of what has come to be known as the AMHI consent decree, just three months after state officials signed the agreement to settle a 1989 class-action lawsuit brought by patients over deteriorating conditions at the state psychiatric hospital. Several patients had died in the months before from heat exposure and suicide.

The consent decree called for improved services and reducing the number of patients at the hospital while shifting more patient care to community settings.

Rodman, whose departure date is uncertain, has served under both of the judges assigned to oversee and rule on the state’s compliance with the 1990 court order.

The consent decree called for the state to come into compliance by 1995 and a ruling last week by Justice Nancy Mills makes clear the state has still not met its terms more than seven years later.

Mills ruled last week that state mental health officials did not meet the vast majority of the decree’s requirements. No one knows what Mills will order state officials to do considering her findings of widespread failures to meet the terms of the consent decree.

Rodman said he told Mills of his decision to step down early in March after the trial had ended but before she reached her decision. He said the judge asked that he not reveal his decision to anyone but lawyers in the case to avoid distractions before her ruling. She announced his resignation as part of her 354-page ruling.

“It’s a purely personal decision. I’ve had this job a very long time. When I took it I never intended it to be a career job,” Rodman said.

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AP-ES-05-30-03 2043EDT

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