Gov. Paul LePage

Without saying why, Gov. Paul LePage withdrew the nominations of five judicial reappointments on the eve of their scheduled confirmation Monday during a special session of the Legislature.

In September, the governor nominated justices Robert Murray of Bangor, MaryGay Kennedy of Brunswick and Ann Murray of Bangor for reappointment to the Maine Superior Court, and judges Bruce Jordan of Veazie and Susan Oram of Auburn for reappointment to the Maine District Court.

The reappointments had been approved by the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee with participation from members of the LePage administration.

LePage, a Republican, sent five individual withdrawal letters — one for each justice and judge — to Senate President Mike Thibodeau and House Speaker Sara Gideon, and to Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Dixfield, and Rep. Matthew Moonen, D-Portland, who co-chair the Judiciary Committee.

The letters were dated Friday, but Gideon, D-Freeport, said she received them Sunday via email, less than 24 hours before the reappointments were scheduled to be confirmed by the Senate. The letters don’t say why the governor withdrew the nominations.


“The governor’s decision to withdraw these nominations, without any explanation, is deeply troubling,” Gideon said in a written statement. “An independent judiciary is fundamental for the rule of law and the integrity of our system. All Mainers have the right to access the court system in a timely manner and this type of delay could affect the delivery of justice. It is our duty to ensure there is a swift resolution to this matter.”

Keim and Moonen didn’t respond to calls for comment Sunday. Neither did the governor’s spokeswoman.

Thibodeau, R-Winterport, said he was aware that the letters had been sent to his office, but he hadn’t seen them yet. Thibodeau said he hadn’t spoken with the governor about his decision to withdraw the nominations and had no insight into why he did it.

“It was a surprise to a lot of folks,” Thibodeau said Sunday. “First thing in the morning, we’ll try to figure out the reasoning behind it.”

Thibodeau said he also was unclear what impact the governor’s action might have on court schedules.

Under Maine law, District Court judges and Superior Court justices are appointed for seven-year terms and may serve an additional six months after their terms expire. The governor may withdraw judicial appointments anytime before confirmation.


All five judges were nominated in 2010 by former Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat. For Jordan and Oram, it was their first term on the bench. The others have been on the job for more than a decade.

Robert “Buddy” Murray is a former legislator who grew up with Baldacci in Bangor, campaigned with him and served in his administration as commissioner of professional and financial regulation for a little over a year. Baldacci first nominated Murray to the District Court bench in 2004.

“As commissioner, Buddy played a major role in the startup of our administration, particularly with his efforts in reforming the Workers Comp Commission,” Baldacci said at the time. “Buddy is a conscientious, hard-working individual who always has the best interest of people in mind.”

Ann Murray, who is Robert Murray’s cousin, was first nominated to a District Court judgeship in 1999 by then-Gov. Angus King, eventually becoming chief judge, and was elevated to the Superior Court by Baldacci in 2010.

UPDATE: Paul LePage unexpectedly withdraws renominations of 5 Maine judges

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