The new York Judicial Center under construction in Biddeford is on track to open in 2023, said Amy Quinlan, spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts. York County government is looking for office space in the city for the York County District Attorneys Office, which is comprised of 44 people, including the state employed prosecutors and support staff, who are employed by the county government. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — York County government is attempting to find a Biddeford location for the York County District Attorney’s Office when the new consolidated court building — the York Judicial Center – opens on Elm Street (Route 1) in Biddeford in 2023.

The preference is for it to be as close to the new court building as possible.

One possibility is the current Biddeford District Court, which is about a seven minute drive from the new court building.

York County Manager Greg Zinser updated York County Commissioners about the situation at a recent meeting.

The state’s three district courts, currently located in Biddeford, Springvale and York, and the York County Superior Court which sits at the county-owned courthouse in Alfred, will be consolidated in the new state-owned Biddeford building. Amy Quinlan, spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the project is on track to open next year.

York County government is looking into the possibilities of  the Maine District Court in Biddeford as an option for the York County District Attorney’s office, once the new consolidated  York Judicial Center opens on Elm Street. Tammy Wells Photo

Similar to other new court houses, the new building has a designated space for use by the district attorney, about 500 square feet, according to Zinser. The space is not intended to be a full-fledged office.


There are 44 people, including District Attorney Kathryn Slattery and her team of prosecutors, who are employed by the state, and support staff, who are employed by the county, who currently work in the four court buildings. Once the three state-owned district courts are closed, the district attorney staff will all consolidate in Alfred, if need be — or somewhere in Biddeford, if a suitable space is found.

The Alfred location of the District Attorney’s Office is about 15 miles from the York Judicial Center.

Zinser told the board he and Slattery have been working hard to determine the path forward. The county has looked at some Biddeford buildings but has found the ones they viewed are extensively dilapidated, too small, or too far away from the new court building, he said.

The county’s position is further complicated by statute that would require a couple of countywide referendums, said Zinser.

“We cannot build outside Alfred (the shiretown) without a county-wide referendum, and if we don’t have the money in our bank account, we would have to go to the voters to take on debt service,” said Zinser. “That has complicated our ability to find something in Biddeford.”

He said the county has reopened a conversation with the state Department of Administration and Financial Services, which will ultimately handle the disposition of the current Biddeford district courthouse. That building, on Adams Street,  is 20,000 square feet including storage.


The York County District Attorney’s Office is an arm of the Maine Attorney General’s office, a state agency, Zinser said in a later interview. In the disposition of state property, state agencies have first dibs, and within that category, agencies currently renting space, those who need larger quarters, and so on.

“This is one option,” said Zinser. “And we’ll see if other options present themselves.”

“What about urgency?” asked Chair Allen Sicard, adding he had heard the state would decide on the disposition of the current Biddeford court building once it is relocated to the new judicial center. “That would put us into 2023, and Kathryn and her staff working out of Alfred,” he said.

“That is something we have to accept,” said Zinser.

The York County District Attorney’s Office is currently located at the York County Court House in Alfred, and in the state court buildings in Biddeford, Springvale and York. County officials are looking to locate the office and its 44 personnel, to a location yet-to-be-determined in Biddeford. The new, consolidated York Judicial Center is on track to open in 2023. Tammy Wells Photo

“A double wide in the parking lot is not an option — I am being facetious, but we are almost to that point,” said Sicard.

Commissioner Donna Ring asked if other counties where new state court buildings have been constructed had similar issues.


“Of the counties I’ve visited, this is unique because the courthouse has been taken out of the traditional shiretown,” said Zinser.  He said in other counties, new court buildings have been constructed adjacent to county facilities, “so this kind of predicament really hasn’t happened.” He said the closest similar situation is in Bangor, where the new Penobscot Judicial Center is about a mile from the county buildings. In this case, he said, the prosecutor’s office would be about 15 miles away, and spoke of the difficulties presented if a prosecutor was in the new court building for a case and needed something in Alfred.

“Or worse a judge says, ‘you’re not ready’,” and dismisses the case,” said Sicard.

Commissioner Richard Clark said the board should contact the county’s legislative delegation.

“The state created the problem, and they need to help us solve it, “said Clark, noting there will be additional issues — like costs associated with transporting prisoners to the new court building from the jail in Alfred.

“We will have significant costs, we’re going to have to talk about a bus,” said Zinser.

Sicard asked about video arraignment.

York County Sheriff William King noted that many arraignments are currently conducted by video, but that those on trial would have to be transported, and there are times that judges want people in custody present in person for other hearings.

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