The Maine Senate confirmed the nomination of District Court Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz for reappointment in a 30-4 vote on Tuesday after one senator spoke in opposition and another spoke in support of the judge.

Moskowitz faced unusual opposition after being nominated by Gov. Paul LePage to serve a second term, but members of the Judiciary Committee who listened to testimony from the judge and about him ultimately voted unanimously to support his nomination last week.

The full Senate’s vote, which had been delayed from Thursday, makes final Moskowitz’s appointment to another seven years on the District Court bench, where he hears a mix of criminal, civil and family cases.

Sen. David Dutremble, D-Biddeford, opened the debate, asking his fellow senators to override Moskowitz’s nomination. He questioned the nomination process and whether the Judiciary Committee adequately vetted Moskowitz in public.

“I have members of the Judiciary Committee who called me directly to say they deliberated over the weekend (two weekends ago) in emails and phone calls, and I believe that is improper,” Dutremble said.

Sen. David Burns, R-Whiting, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, spoke in favor of Moskowitz’s confirmation. He read aloud an excerpt of Moskowitz’s testimony before the committee in which the judge drew attention to an unlawful order he imposed in January that drew national criticism.

Moskowitz’s order in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland banned the media from reporting testimony in a domestic violence case in which the defendant was a prominent criminal defense attorney. The judge rescinded his gag order and apologized two days later after the Press Herald defied his ruling and published the alleged victim’s testimony.

Burns read Moskowitz’s testimony in which the judge said that decision was a clear mistake and that he views it “as a clear opportunity to learn and improve and I’ve learned a valuable lesson from that experience.”

“I have confidence that this nominee learned from his mistake and will not make that mistake again,” Burns said. “What we have to do is look at the totality of the decisions made and the totality of the work.”

Burns also said that the vast majority of those who spoke at the nomination hearings were “overwhelmingly positive” in their support of Moskowitz.

Moskowitz did not immediately respond to a request for comment left via voicemail and email messages left with Mary Ann Lynch, a spokeswoman for the Judicial Branch.

The four senators who voted against Moskowitz’s confirmation were Dutremble; Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford; Sen. Jim Dill, D-Old Town; and Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden.

Although about a dozen attorneys spoke in support of the judge before the Judiciary Committee, four attorneys who have tried cases before Moskowitz publicly called for his removal from the bench, creating a stir in the legal community.

Portland attorney Matthew Nichols acted first, submitting written testimony to the committee about two weeks ago calling Moskowitz “not a good judge.” Three other attorneys said in interviews last week with the Portland Press Herald that they agreed with Nichols.

Nichols and the other three lawyers who opposed Moskowitz’s nomination – Darrick Banda, Seth Berner and William Bly – all said other members of the criminal defense bar also think that Moskowitz is unfit to be a judge but wouldn’t speak publicly for fear of repercussions because Moskowitz hears cases involving their clients.

Nichols doesn’t regret writing his critical letter and doesn’t foresee having any problems trying cases in front of Moskowitz in the future.

“My letter never questioned his integrity. It was actually quite complimentary of him as an attorney and a prosecutor,” Nichols said. “I don’t see the quote-unquote fear of retaliation being legitimate with Judge Moskowitz. I have never viewed him as that sort of guy.”

Nichols said many people have approached him since he wrote his letter, telling him that what he did took a lot of courage. But he doesn’t see it that way.

“This process of judicial nominations and renominations, so much of it is done in relative secrecy that the general public doesn’t know what is going on. Attorneys know who’s up for nomination and renomination and special interest groups know but that’s it.” Nichols said. “Attorneys, being privy to that knowledge, have a unique opportunity to voice their opinions, and I believe have a responsibility to voice their opinions. It is our responsibility to stand up and be heard.”

Moskowitz is the second judge this year whose nomination for reappointment became a lightning rod for opposition, especially by those who have appeared before the judges in divorce cases in Family Court. The Judiciary Committee also delayed making an immediate decision in March for Judge Patricia Worth. The committee in the end recommended Worth’s appointment unanimously.