AUGUSTA — The Maine court system will assign retired judges to divorce proceedings to clear a growing backlog of more than 6,000 cases that have been delayed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program began last week and will assign the former judges as referees to divorce cases where both sides involved have lawyers. The referees would work to resolve the cases without a trial, The Bangor Daily News reported Tuesday.

“The goal is to add capacity in the short term to allow us to address the backlog without adding work to existing personnel,” Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill said.

Judges who volunteer as referees will be paid the same full-day $350 stipend amount as other active retired judges who work in the court system.

According to Alyson Cummings, an employee for the administrative office of the courts, the cost of the program and the number of cases the judges will handle have not been determined yet.

The pilot program will last through June 2023, the newspaper reported.


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