January 31, 2013

Local & State Dispatches

From staff and news services

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Senate committee puts off vote on judicial candidate

A Senate committee postponed its vote Thursday on a federal judicial candidate from Maine whose nomination has been pending for more than a year.

William Kayatta, a partner at the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland, was one of three nominees to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Republican committee members requested a one-week delay on all three, and a vote is now expected Feb. 7.

President Obama first nominated Kayatta for the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Jan. 23, 2012. The Judiciary Committee endorsed the Cape Elizabeth resident three months later, sending his name to the Senate for consideration. But Kayatta and several dozen other judicial nominees fell victim to election-year politics and Republicans blocked action.

The 1st Circuit, one step below the U.S. Supreme Court, hears appeals from Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island. Kayatta would replace Judge Kermit Lipez of Maine.

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who tracks judicial nominations, said he expects Kayatta to be easily approved by the committee when the nomination finally gets brought up.

AUGUSTA

Measures to protect privacy outlined at news conference

A package of bills to protect Mainers' privacy in the telecommunications boom is being outlined in the State House.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and lawmakers told a news conference Thursday that with Internet use almost unavoidable, people's personal information is more vulnerable than ever to ending up in the wrong hands.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is presenting several bills aimed at protecting that private information.

• Two of the bills require warrants before police can engage in cellphone tracking or before obtaining text messaging content.

• Another bill would require law enforcement to get a warrant before using domestic drones to spy on people.

• A bill would bar schools and employers from accessing passwords to private accounts of students or employees.

 

State launches effort aimed at preparing kids for school

The state is launching an effort to help children from birth to age 5 get ready for school, Education Commissioner Steve Bowen said Thursday.

The interagency "early learning" team is a joint effort by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services, Bowen said.

The new State Agency Interdepartmental Early Learning Team will "provide a strong governance structure" between the departments and coordinate management of the many early-learning programs in both.

Bowen said the group is an outgrowth of Maine failing to make the cut in 2011 for federal Race to the Top grant funds intended to jump-start early childhood programs. At the time, Maine officials vowed to move ahead with the effort. More information is online at www.maine.gov/doe/recovery/saielworkplan.html.

 

Winslow man arraigned for Waterville shooting

A Winslow man charged with fatally shooting a man outside a Waterville bar has pleaded not guilty.

Matthew Partridge was ordered held on $700,000 bail after his arraignment Wednesday in Kennebec County Superior Court on a murder charge.

Prosecutors say Partridge, 30, shot Justin Smith, 26, of China in the face with a handgun after an altercation Dec. 4 between two groups of men that started in the pub and spilled outside.

Partridge's attorney says the shooting was a case of self-defense after Smith punched her client in the face.

Partridge faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

BANGOR

Former club treasurer indicted on theft charges

A former treasurer of the Bangor-Breakfast Kiwanis Club and Greater Bangor 4th of July Corp. has been charged with stealing more than $100,000 from the organizations.

Bruce Fowle was indicted Wednesday by a Penobscot County grand jury on theft charges.

Authorities say Fowle, 62, had been stealing from the organizations for several years, although an investigation began in August only when members of the organizations realized money was missing. No arraignment date has been scheduled.

The president of the Greater Bangor 4th of July Corp., which raised money for the city fireworks display, told WABI-TV he was "greatly saddened" by the indictment.

Fowle is no longer involved with either organization. Prosecutors say none of the money has been returned.

 

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