Appellate news

Practice area:

Things are hopping on the appellate practice front in Maine.  Last month the Maine SJC announced it was creating an advisory committee for the Maine Rules of Appellate Procedure, and on May 20, the SJC will be giving a CLE on Appellate Practice before the Court.  (Appellate Practice Before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (PRACPRO)

On the latter front, all 7 Justices will be there leading different topics.  They always say that learning from lion tamers is fine, but hearing from the lions themselves is even better.  This is a chance to get the direct skinny on issues like motion practice, preservation, the appendix etc. – and you get your ethics CLE hour to boot.  Be there or be square (and if you can’t be there, your intrepid reporter will be taking notes to share).  

Here’s a link to the Chief’s speech on the state of judiciary, given yesterday.  Highlights affecting appellate issues include the news that they will be traveling up to hear argument in East Machias next month, aside from the usual Tour O’Maine in October.  With trips to Bangor and Augusta in new courthouses that can hold them all, the Court is back to riding the circuit in a big way.  Clippity clop.

Finally, roaming around the SJC website, there’s some interesting case load statistics on appeals from 2011-15.  Criminal and civil filings before the SJC are both up from 2014 to 2015.  General civil appeals were down, and 80B/80Cs were down a smidgen, with other civil categories – child protective, divorce, protection, probate and traffic violations – generally up.

If you look at the statistics from 2011 to 2015, civil filings overall are still down (they peaked in 2012 at 477, down to 431 in 2014, up to 443 in 2015).  There’s been a significant drop in general civil, and a big hike in the family law areas, with regulatory appeals remaining fairly steady.  Criminal filings have gone down from 231 in 2011 to 176 in 2014, up to 182 in 2015.  Lawyers were apparently naughtier – or accused thereof – in 2012-2014, with SJC bar cases up from 18 to 25, then dropping to 12 in 2015.

Overall, SJC filings have gone down from 690 in 2011 to a low of 602 in 2013, and were 625 in 2015.

On the trial level, total civil filings are down – both from 2011-2014, and 2014 to 2015.  Civil rights claims are up, along with 80B and 80C and statutory actions, with all other actions basically down.  The big bump in foreclosure actions from 2012-2014 is subsiding.  Generally, filings, both criminal and civil, are down.

Because the court doesn’t break down the statistics at the trial and appellate levels in the same way, you can’t tell how many of each category of cases filed at the trial level end up getting appealed.  The only same category at each level are 80B and 80Cs – 219 filed in the Superior Court in 2014, with 27 appeals to the SJC in 2014.