Per my last entry, I toddled off to Rockport for the biannual federal judicial conference. There were excellent programs and it was a great opportunity to catch up with many folks I hadn't seen for a while.
Justice Silver confirmed to me that it is official: he will be stepping down from the bench as of Dec. 31. I will blog more as that date approachs on his legacy, but you can see a big part of it looming over the Bangor skyline — the new Penobscot court house.
Also exiting – sort of- before the next judicial conference is Judge Lynch as chief judge, to be replaced by Judge Howard. Hopefully, Judge Lynch will remain on the bench as a judge for many years to come; we wish Judge Howard good luck with his looming administrative duties.
The statistics continue to show few trials in Maine and a shrinking number of appeals before the First Circuit. As Cliff Ruprecht said on one panel, while many factors contribute to this, in the end, one cannot ignore that it seems to reflect that we are not giving the public what it needs to make productive use of the system. The service is broken, and we need to ponder how to fix it. Litigation is expensive and difficult and takes time, and if we want to remain relevant, we need to take action.
Finally, one of the more entertaining programs was Judge Hornby describing the first federal execution in the United States, which occured in Maine. He apparently spoke on this topic at an earlier Cleaves event, too, but I missed that. The defendant executed was one Thomas Bird. It was maritime jurisdiction, and had to do with a murder of a captain of a slave ship. The name of the captain was Connor, and he was apparently an overall loathesome character who had murdered his first mate. Since the original Conor was a rather nasty king in Ireland, this is a consistent theme. And let's also not forget the notorious sheriff, Bull Connor, during the civil rights demonstratations of the 1960's, setting dogs and hoses on the peaceful marchers.
This got me to thinking about other Connors in Maine law (besides yours truly). The other biggie, I believe, is Selden Conner (as you can see, we Irish have been creative in spelling over the years). He was a CIvil War officer and Governor of Maine for two terms, starting in 1975. There is also a Connor, Maine – an unorganized township in Aroostook County, population 457 in 2010 (perhaps all named some form of Connor, O'Connor etc?).