A former Oxford County Sheriff’s deputy who left that job after an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound with his service revolver after drinking alcohol off duty can’t appeal the loss of his eligibility to be certified as a law enforcement officer.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that Stephen T. Witham missed a Kennebec County Superior Court deadline to file an appeal of the  Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees’ decision to revoke his certificate of eligibility as a law enforcement officer.

The board had earlier adopted a hearing officer’s recommendation to revoke Witham’s eligibility.

Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy had originally granted Witham an extension of time to file his appeal of the board’s decision after he claimed he had failed to receive timely notification from the court that it had upheld the academy board’s revocation.

The academy’s board then appealed Murphy’s decision to give Witham more time to the state’s highest court.

The higher court found “that the court erred in granting Witham’s motion for an extension,” reversing the Kennebec County court’s order and dismissing Witham’s appeal as “untimely,” according to a decision issued by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.


In April 2020, Witham filed a petition in Kennebec County Superior Court for review of the academy board’s decision to adopt a hearing officer’s recommendation to revoke his certificate of eligibility as a law enforcement officer.

In May 2021, the court entered a judgment upholding the board’s decision.

Copies of that decision were sent to all parties, according to the Law Court decision announced Tuesday.

In November 2021, 160 days after the entry of the Kennebec County judge’s decision, Witham filed a notice of appeal in that court along with a motion seeking extra time to file his appeal.

Witham attached an affidavit from his lawyer to the motion, explaining that he and his attorney hadn’t learned about the judge’s decision upholding the revocation of his certificate until October 22, 2021, and that it appeared that mail delivery had been delayed “due to a postal service oversight,” according to the opinion published Tuesday.

About two months later, Justice Murphy granted Witham’s motion for more time to file his appeal. The academy’s board then challenged Murphy’s order, urging her to reconsider.


On Feb. 1, 2022, Murphy denied the board’s motion to reconsider, saying that although “no one could possibly reconstruct precisely what occurred,” the court “was persuaded by the affidavit” of Witham’s lawyer who asserted there was a “fraying” of the clerks’ standards, despite the clerks’ diligent efforts, due to difficulties caused by the pandemic.

For those reasons Murphy said there was good cause to allow Witham’s late filing, according to Tuesday’s opinion.

The Law Court disagreed with that finding, dismissing Witham’s appeal.

Witham was fired from his job in 2018 by the Oxford County sheriff after an investigation. Witham had reportedly shot off the tip of his finger with his service revolver after he’d been drinking off-duty on St. Patrick’s Day in 2016.

Sheriff James Theriault had said in July 2018: “The administration at that time (2016) never did any reports or anything to that effect and the doctor said it didn’t look like it was a gunshot wound, but we have witnesses that heard the shot and he admitted to the weapon going off.”

Two months later, after a union representative challenged the firing, county officials rescinded Witham’s termination and Witham was allowed to resign from his job following a meeting of Oxford County commissioners in executive session.

Witham had started his law enforcement career with the Paris Police Department and had been with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office since 2014 and had received his K-9 certification.

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