AUGUSTA — When the Maine Supreme Judicial Court sits in session at the Kennebec County Courthouse this month, it will really be coming home.

The state Supreme Court started there in 1830 and held regular sessions there until 1970, when it moved permanently to the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland.

Associate Justice Joseph Jabar said he expects the court to hear oral arguments in cases in Augusta at least twice a year because the large, ornate courtroom in the historic building has been renovated and the bench was enlarged.

The court also holds sessions twice a year at the Penobscot County Judicial Center in Bangor and generally sits at various high schools across the state for the October session.

Consigli Corp., which built the new four-story Capital Judicial Center, also did the renovation work on the older building. “They’ve done a good job making sure it’s looked the way it’s always looked,” Jabar said.

Along with serving the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the large courtroom will be available for jury and nonjury trails, and just about any proceeding as long as no participants are in custody, Jabar said.


The renovation of the historic building earned it a certificate of occupancy Thursday after an inspection by city and fire officials, a formality Robert Devlin, county administrator, found amusing. “We’ve occupied it since 1830,” he said.

In fact, the staffs of the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office and Kennebec County Probate Court, which occupy some of the first floor plus two floors of an adjacent wing, have been working in the older building all along.

The newly renovated courtroom will be reached through two glassed-in bridges from the third floor of the Capital Judicial Center, which opened March 1.

“We kept as much as we could of the original,” Jabar said. “One of my favorite parts of the project is having the old courtroom connected with the new. If we located somewhere else, we would have had to turn this into a museum.”

All the work to erect the new courthouse, link it to the older building and update the older building has taken place on time and a little under the $57 million budget, according to Jabar, who served as the liaison for the Maine Judicial Branch and chairman of the courthouse committee.

A formal open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new courthouse is set for 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 18. Following the brief ceremony, at which Gov. Paul LePage is expected, Chief Justice Leigh Saufley will invite visitors into a room on the second floor for light refreshments.

The renovations must be completed when the Supreme Judicial Court sits for the first of three days of oral arguments.


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