Maine Chief Justice Leigh Saufley cuts ribbon on new Waldo Judicial Center

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 8:00pm

The Waldo Judicial Center held its ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, April 5, where Chief Justice Leigh Saufley addressed a crowd gathered in front of the courthouse. 

A statement about the event prepared by Director of Court Communications Government and Media Counsel Elaine Clark, Esq., reads:

The ribbon cutting for the Waldo Judicial Center, held on April 5, began in the shadow of flags flying at half-staff.  Chief Justice Leigh Saufley asked for a moment of silence in honor of Maine State Police Detective Benjamin Campbell, who tragically lost his life two days prior in service of the people of Maine.

After honoring Detective Campbell, the Chief Justice introduced the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court, the four Trial Court Chiefs, and the Judges assigned to coastal courthouses who will regularly preside at the Waldo Judicial Center.

She then proceeded to thank all those involved in supporting, designing, building and operating the new courthouse, noting that the facility had been “needed for a very long time, and in 2015, with the support of the 127th Maine Legislature and Governor LePage, the funding for this building and courthouses in two other counties was established in the State’s budget.” 

The Chief Justice continued, stating that the resulting courthouse design was extraordinary thanks to a dedicated building committee, headed by Justice Robert Murray and Judge Patricia Worth, talented designer Mark Carter of North Peak Architecture, the builder, Ganneston Construction Company, and the “percent for art” artists Gordon Carlisle and Peter Yesis whose beautiful paintings are located in the lobbies on both floors.

The building comprises 38,000 square feet, with three courtrooms, a consolidated clerks’ office, multiple public conference rooms, rooms dedicated to mediation, and excellent parking capacity. 

The Chief Justice described the courthouse as having “modern safety features, handicap accessibility throughout the building, a good amount of space for people to get out of the rain while waiting to go through security, energy efficient heating and lighting, and wireless internet access for public convenience.”  However, one of the Chief’s favorite areas of the building is the second-floor public waiting area, “which is bright, comfortable, and has an expansive view of downtown Belfast.”  The stress of being in court may be alleviated, at least in small part, by this bright and open space, she said.

Several legislators and former legislators attended the ceremony, including Sen. Erin Herbig, Rep. Jan Dodge, Rep. Stanley Zeigler, Rep. Maryann Kinney, former Senate President Mike Thibodeau, and former Rep. James Gilway.

Governor Mills was represented by her General Counsel, Derek Langhauser. 

The Chief also thanked the members of Waldo County government for their collaboration and collegiality during the project. County Commissioners Betty Johnson, William Shore, and Amy Fowler attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with County Clerk Barbara Arseneau.  The City of Belfast, also recognized for their patience and cooperation, was represented by Mayor Samantha Paradis.  Finally, the Chief Justice recognized the leadership of the Waldo County Bar Association, Aaron Fetke (President), Kelly Mellenthin (Vice President) and Sean Ociepka (past President).

Clerk of Court Brooke Otis, the entire clerk staff, and judicial marshals were recognized by the Chief Justice for their dedicated public service throughout “the arduous task of dismantling and reconstructing the clerk’ office, all while continuing to provide excellent public service.”

The Chief Justice wielded giant scissors to cut the ribbon, held on each end by Senator Herbig and former Senate President Mike Thibodeau.  The attendees were then invited to tour the facility, view a demonstration of court technology, and enjoy a cake specially made for the occasion.

Erica Thoms can be reached at