So as we say good-bye to summer (snif), let us note what’s coming up of interest in the next two months.
First, the Maine Historical Society is having an event honoring the Mills Family (Dora, Janet, Paul and Peter) on Sept. 28, 5:30-8:00 pm at the Hannaford Hall. https://www.mainehistory.org/programs_events.shtml#September in Portland.
All of them are interesting in their own right – it’s always entertaining to chat with Peter — but I will be there for Paul. I served on the Board of Bar Examiners with him for 7 years. I think he is still there, doing his duty, and as I have mentioned in this blog before, he is The Fount of Knowledge as to Maine history, particularly Maine government and the law. You may see him on the local station sometimes come election time, when he provides nuggets of interest about past elections. Paul, it’s time to write a book! He also happens to be a very, very nice guy.
Second, the Maine SJC has announced the oral arguments for both September (up in the new courthouse in Augusta, which I’m told is lovely) and October, for the annual Tour ‘O Maine High School trip, where the Court hears arguments in three different high schools around the state. (Oral Argument Schedule) This year, it’s Hermon, Farmington and Scarborough. Road trip!
They haven’t posted the summaries for September yet, but we have an interesting one scheduled for Friday, September 18, Kinney v. Busch. The issue is the division of marital property in a divorce. The Maine law eliminating the ban against recognition of marriages of same-sex couples became effective at the end of 2012. The parties were married in Massachusetts before the ban was lifted, then filed for divorce after the ban was lifted. One party is arguing that the court should divide the marital property as if the parties hadn’t been married until the end of 2012. The District Court said no, and sent it up on a reported question. We are on the side that agrees with the District Court, with co-counsel Tammy Ham-Thompson and Mary Bonauto of GLAD. Many Maine lawyers, as well as Governor John Baldacci filed an amici brief in support of our side’s position, explaining the havoc that would be wrought under the other parties’ theory. Here’s a link to the amici brief. (Brief) There was also supplemental briefing on the impact of Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S._, 2015 WL 2473451 (June 26, 2015), the Supreme Court requiring recognition of marriages of same-sex couples on constitutional grounds.
We do know what the October arguments are about, because they post the briefs for the high school kids to get up to speed. I call this the Fear of God Tour, because 8 of the 9 appeals being heard are criminal cases, and many of them about drugs and alcohol. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
We have one on that list as well, raising another interesting question – State of Maine v. Sudsbury. We filed the amicus brief with Zach Heiden of the ACLU of Maine.
Briefly, the issue is whether the state needs a warrant before sending a wired informant into someone’s home. Many moons ago the Supreme Court said no in a plurality opinion. Some states, however, including Massachusetts, disagree, relying on their own Constitutions. The amici brief supports the need for a warrant, and for the general principle that the SJC should look at the state constitution first, which is not always in lockstep with the feds.