Supreme Judicial Court Calendar

Oral arguments are at the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland unless otherwise indicated. Additional dates may be scheduled to accommodate workload.

Caution: This schedule is subject to change. The case summaries are prepared by Court staff for the convenience of the public and are not to be construed as statements of the Court.

Oral Arguments: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 (via remote conferencing)

Audio Stream

Time Docket Number Case Name Attorneys Topics & Summary
9:15 a.m. Yor-20-131 Kevin J. Hill v. Town of Wells et al. Alan E. Shepard, Keith P. Richard Zoning variances

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The Wells Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied Kevin Hill’s request for setback variances for construction of a residence. Hill appealed pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 80B, and the Superior Court reversed the decision of the ZBA, thereby entitling Hill to the requested variance. Abutting property owner Bradley Hastings, who intervened in the Superior Court, appeals, arguing that (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the ZBA’s determinations that the proposed structure “would alter the essential character of the locality” and that Hill created his own hardship, and those determinations are not errors of law, and (2) even if the ZBA’s determinations are not supported by the evidence, the proper remedy is to remand to the ZBA for further determinations.

In supplemental briefing required by the Court, Hastings argues that the application of Wells code § 145-67(B), which imposes additional requirements before the granting of “any appeal . . . which would allow a structure within the required setbacks” from certain land features, has not been waived, and that, if the matter is remanded to the Town, the ZBA must apply that ordinance before granting a variance.

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10:00 a.m. Cum-20-235 State of Maine v. Mark Cardilli Jr. Leanne Robbin, Rory A. McNamara, Jamesa J. Drake Self-defense

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After a bench trial, Mark Cardilli Jr. was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of his sister’s boyfriend. Cardilli appeals, arguing that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court’s findings that it was a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable and prudent person would observe in the same situation for Cardilli to believe that (a) the victim was not licensed or privileged to enter the Cardillis’ home when he did so and (b) deadly force was necessary to prevent the victim from inflicting bodily injury on Cardilli or others in the home; and (2) the trial court erred in failing to analyze whether Cardilli reasonably believed deadly force was necessary to prevent the victim’s use of unlawful, deadly force against him or others in the home.

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11:00 a.m.   Law School Prize Argument  

Oral Arguments: Thursday, April 8, 2021 (via remote conferencing)


Time Docket Number Case Name Attorneys Topics & Summary
9:15 a.m. Som-20-241 Madison Paper Industries v. Town of Madison Jonathan A. Block, Olga J. Goldberg, David P. Silk Tax valuation of real property

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Madison Paper Industries (MPI) owned a paper mill and two hydroelectric dams, which supplied power to the mill and did not sell electricity on the open market, in the Town of Madison. On March 14, 2016, two weeks before the Town’s annual tax valuation date of April 1, MPI announced that it was shutting down the mill within two months because of a decrease in demand for the mill’s only product. After the Town assessed the mill and dams at $72.3 million, MPI applied to the Town for a property tax abatement. The Town denied the abatement petition.

MPI appealed to the State Board of Property Tax Review, which affirmed the Town’s valuation. MPI then appealed to the Superior Court pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 80C. The Superior Court affirmed the Board’s decision.

MPI appeals, arguing that the Board erred by (1) valuing the mill based on its “current use” as of the valuation date—as a fully operational paper mill—rather than at its “highest and best use” or market value, which, because of its impending closure and obsolescence, was its scrap or salvage value; (2) double-counting the value of the dams in the overall valuation by valuing the dams both separately from the mill, based on the income they could produce if the electricity they generated were sold, and in conjunction with the mill, based on the mill’s receiving the electricity from the dams “free”; and (3) determining that the assessed value of the dams was “accurate within reasonable limits of practicality” as that term is used in 36 M.R.S. § 848-A.

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10:00 a.m. Ken-20-242 State of Maine v. Mark Gessner Michael H. Madigan, Clifford B. Strike Successive trials for multiple offenses under 17-A MRS § 14

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In 2011, after having been found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disease or defect, Mark Gessner was committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2018, Gessner was a resident of a mental health facility in Kennebec County but was permitted to spend limited time in the community. While away from the facility on leave that required that he stay in the Augusta/Hallowell area, Gessner was involved in an altercation in Bath. He was arrested and charged in Sagadahoc County with two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon (Class C). The first count was dismissed prior to trial, and a jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the second count.

Months after Gessner was acquitted in Sagadahoc County, Kennebec County indicted Gessner on a charge of escape (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 755(1)(B), based on the same incident in Bath. The Kennebec County prosecutor eventually sought and received permission to amend the indictment to charge Gessner with Class C escape, a charge that did not include an allegation that Gessner had “use[d] physical force against another person, threaten[ed] to use physical force or [was] armed with a dangerous weapon” at the time of the alleged escape. Id.

The trial court denied Gessner’s motion to dismiss the escape charge and later entered a judgment of conviction on Gessner’s conditional plea of guilty.

Gessner appeals from the denial of his motion to dismiss, arguing that the trial court erred in determining that the State was permitted to prosecute Gessner for escape because Gessner could not be subjected to “separate trials for multiple offenses based on the same conduct or arising from the same criminal episode, if such offenses were . . . within the jurisdiction of the same court and within the same venue,” 17-A M.R.S. § 14, and the crime of escape could have been prosecuted in Sagadahoc County, along with the charges of criminal threating with a dangerous weapon, pursuant to the language in 17-A M.R.S. § 755 that “[n]otwithstanding other provisions of this section, in all cases of escape, prosecution may be in the county or division in which the person who has escaped was apprehended.”

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10:45 a.m. Ken-20-244 United Cannabis Patients and Caregivers of Maine et al. v. Department of Administrative and Financial Services et al. James G. Monteleone, Patrick I. Marass, David A. Soley, J. Williams McCartney, Matthew Warner, Alexandra Harriman, Christopher C. Taub, Thomas A. Knowlton, Deanna White, Paul E. Suitter Declaratory judgments

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After the Department of Administrative and Financial Services was sued in federal court by NPG, LLC—an out-of-state business seeking to sell marijuana in Maine—the Department announced that it would not enforce a provision of the Maine Marijuana Legalization Act that required any person selling “adult use” marijuana in Maine to be a Maine resident, and the parties agreed to dismiss the federal court suit. United Cannabis Patients and Caregivers of Maine, Dawson Julia, and Christian Roney (collectively United Cannabis), who are Maine residents as defined by the legalization act, sued the Department in Superior Court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the Department was required to enforce the residency requirement and also seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction requiring the Department to enforce the residency requirement. The Superior Court granted the Department’s and NPG’s motions to dismiss the complaint, determining that (1) it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to enter anticipatory declaratory relief; (2) United Cannabis did not have standing to challenge the Department’s refusal to enforce the residency requirement; and (3) its entry of the requested relief would infringe on the executive branch’s powers under the Maine constitution because the executive branch has the prerogative to determine whether to enforce a statute.

United Cannabis appeals, arguing that (1) the Superior Court has jurisdiction in equity to construe, and determine the validity of, statutes, (2) United Cannabis has standing to seek relief because it is engaged in business directly affected by the statute and therefore will suffer a particularized economic injury if the residency requirement is not enforced, and (3) under the separation of powers doctrine, it is the judicial branch, and not the executive branch, that is responsible for determining whether a legislative enactment is constitutional.

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Future Dates

Oral Arguments Cases on Briefs
May 4, 5, 6, 7, 2021 Week of May 17, 2021
June 1, 2, 3, 4, 2021 Week of June 14, 2021
July 13, 14, 15, 2021 Week of July 12, 2021
September 7, 8, 9, 2021 Week of September 20, 2021
October 5, 6, 7, 2021 Week of October 18, 2021
November 2, 3, 4, 2021 Week of November 15, 2021
December 7, 8, 9, 2021 Week of December 20, 2021
January 11, 12, 13, 2022 Week of January 24, 2022
February 8, 9, 10, 2022 Week of February 21, 2022
March 8, 9, 10, 2022  
April 5, 6, 7, 8, 2022 Week of April 18, 2022
May 9, 10, 11, 12, 2022 Week of May 23, 2022
June 6, 7, 8, 9, 2022 Week of June 20, 2022
July 12, 13, 14, 2022