Chief Justice Announces Special Service and Advocate For Justice Awards for 2011

October 19, 2011

Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court today announced the recipients of the Judicial Branch Special Service Award, and the Advocate For Justice Award. The Special Service Award is given to that person or persons who consistently contributes above and beyond expected job responsibilities to further the Judicial Branch mission, and the Advocate For Justice Award is awarded to that person, judge, employee, legislator, public official, lawyer or citizen who has most effectively championed the cause of justice in our society.

The Special Service Award was awarded to Allen Ross of Dexter, Maine. Mr. Ross became a mediator for the Judicial Branch in 1998, after retiring from teaching in the Dexter School System for 33 years. In his mediation duties, Mr. Ross helped initiate mediation for grandparents caught up in child custody issues. He also served for many years as a volunteer and on the Board of Womancare, an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse. Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said, “ Al’s everyday acts of kindness around the courthouse are legendary. In a place where so much of the work revolves around disputes, Al was always kind, thoughtful and caring with all who entered the courthouse. It is such a privilege for us to recognize Al Ross for the wonderful work he has done in Maine Courts for over a decade.

During a ceremony at the Newport District Court, State Representative Ken Fredette also presented Mr. Ross with a legislative sentiment in honor of the occasion. Judges, clerks, members of the bar, family and friends, were in attendance and offered congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Ross.

Chief Justice Leigh Saufley also awarded the Advocate for Justice Award to Deirdre Smith of the University of Maine School of Law. Deirdre Smith is a Professor of Law and Director of the Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic. In conferring the award on Professor Smith the Chief Justice said, “Professor Smith has revitalized the law school’s clinical education program. She has expanded the program to include assistance for those caught up in the juvenile justice system, and has immeasurably improved juvenile justice advocacy in Maine. With Deirdre as a role model, the law school students who have worked in the Clinic are known to be professional, prepared, and articulate advocates, adding to the respect for Maine’s legal community. Professor Smith also serves on the court’s Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence. She has distinguished herself as both a distinguished academic and an accomplished practitioner.”