LEWISTON — This month’s Great Falls Forum, set for noon on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Lewiston Public Library, will feature a personal retrospective of Lewiston native son Robert Clifford’s 30-year career as a Maine judge.

Best known as Maine’s longest tenured member of the Maine Supreme Court, Clifford retired in August from that post, culminating 23 years on the high court bench. This was preceded by a seven-year stint with the Superior Court, where he was named that court’s first chief justice. Newly appointed by Gov. John Baldacci as active retired justice, he continues to hear cases in Maine’s trial courts.

Clifford graduated from Bowdoin College and Boston College Law School and then served in Europe with the Army before returning to Lewiston in 1964 to join the family law firm. He quickly became involved in local civic activities, serving multiple terms as both city councilor and mayor.

In the 1970s, he served two terms as a Democrat in the Maine Senate, where he co-sponsored the state’s existing criminal code as well as the bill that created the Administrative Office of the Courts for the state. He also chaired the Lewiston Charter Commission, which drafted the current charter creating the city’s mayor–council government system. More recently, he served as co-chair of the Lewiston-Auburn Mayor’s Commission on Joint City Services.

Clifford added to his Maine legal legacy in the past two years by leading a panel whose work resulted in legislation which separated the budget for indigent legal defense from the overall state judicial branch budget. The bill was signed into law earlier this year.

Called “the bedrock of the court” by Maine Supreme Court Justice Leigh Saufley, Clifford is described by friends and colleagues as “kind, calm and self-effacing … someone who is just as happy to sit down and chat with the courthouse custodian as he is to chat with a visiting judge.”

Clifford will take questions from the audience following his Great Falls Forum presentation. Admission to the event is free, with attendees invited to bring brown-bag lunches. Bottled water will be available on site.

Attendees may also take advantage of the Forum’s partnership with Guthries cafe and request one of the eatery’s custom-made, gourmet sandwiches or salads to be delivered to the library in advance of the talk. Orders may be placed by calling Guthries at 376-3344. The menu is available at www.myspace.com/guthriesplace

Partnering with the library as cosponsors of the Great Falls Forum series are the Lewiston Sun Journal, Bates College and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

The Lewiston Public Library is located downtown at 200 Lisbon St. at the corner of Pine Street. More information on Thursday’s lecture or other upcoming events in the Great Falls Forum series is available by contacting the Lewiston Public Library at 513-3135 or www.lplonline.org.

  Maine’s longest tenured member of the Maine Supreme Court, Justice Robert Clifford, in 2009.


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