University of Denver

Maine Civil Justice Reform

In July 2016, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) approved a Resolution endorsing 13 recommendations that are designed to transform the civil justice system in our state courts to meet the challenges of contemporary civil caseloads and the needs of those who come to the courts for resolution of their disputes. Following this endorsement, IAALS and NCSC launched a Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) Implementation Plan to support implementation of the recommendations—by developing tools, providing education and technical assistance, evaluating demonstration projects, and hosting regional summits for state action teams. As part of this project, IAALS and NCSC have published Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: A Roadmap for Implementation, which provides a clear step-by-step process for moving from initial assessment and definition of issues to working with stakeholders and implementing reform.

IAALS and NCSC worked with four states—Idaho, Maine, Missouri, and Texas, as they moved through the roadmap process, providing technical assistance and documenting their efforts. We have now published a case study of the successes and lessons learned from implementation.

In February 2017, Maine was selected by the CJI Steering Committee to serve as the roadmap state from the New England CCJ/COSCA region. Maine focused on developing and implementing civil case pathways in their Superior and District Courts. Maine first looked to the successes from Maine’s Business Court Division, the national CJI Recommendations, and successful civil justice reform efforts and evaluations from other states focusing on recommendations to implement different pathway approaches or “tracks” for cases to ensure the process is right-sized to the needs of the case. The Maine Judiciary formed a Judicial Working Group and then an Attorney Stakeholders Working Group to propose draft changes to the rules of civil procedure that align with the life or trajectory of a civil case. Proposed changes to the rules of civil procedure in Superior and District trial Courts have been revised, finalized, and presented as a package to the Maine Supreme Court for possible approval and adoption.

In April 2020, IAALS published Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: The Road to Civil Justice Reform, which documented the experiences of Maine and the other roadmap states as they moved through the roadmap process, noting successes and challenges, and identifying lessons learned for future courts implementing reform to provide practical insight into the process of implementing court changes. The study aims to help other jurisdictions understand how they can successfully implement similar changes in their courts, while also inspiring additional jurisdictions to undertake reform.

Other roadmap states include Idaho, Texas, and Missouri

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