WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree are recommending that President Obama nominate a Maine Supreme Judicial Court justice or a Portland lawyer to fill Maine’s sole seat on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Maine Democrats said Friday that they are forwarding the names of Justice Jon Levy of Portland and William Kayatta Jr. of Cape Elizabeth, a partner in Pierce Atwood in Portland, as candidates to fill the seat being vacated by federal appeals Judge Kermit Lipez.

Lipez will assume senior status by Dec. 31, or when his replacement is confirmed.

The Senate confirms judicial nominees, but since both of Maine senators are Republicans and Obama is a Democrat, it is up to Pingree and Michaud to recommend federal judicial nominations to Obama.

The two lawmakers named a selection committee, made up of people from various parts of Maine’s legal community, to help screen candidates before recommending Levy and Kayatta.

It will be up to Obama to decide whom to nominate for the seat.

“We were impressed with all the applicants, a reflection of the high quality of Maine’s legal community,” Michaud and Pingree said in a joint news release. “The two names the panel unanimously recommended are extremely well qualified. Either candidate would be an excellent addition to the appeals court.”

Levy is a former chief judge of the Maine District Court. He was nominated in 2002 by Gov. Angus King to serve on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Kayatta is a nationally prominent trial lawyer.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Nancy Torresen, an assistant U.S. attorney, for the U.S. District Court for Maine. Torresen’s nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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