Superior Courts in Maine are the general jurisdiction courts for the state and the only trial courts that use a jury. Maine’s Superior Courts were created in 1929. They have 17 justices in 16 counties. Each county has one justice except for Aroostook County that has two. These judges hold regular sessions in each of the locations. Judges may travel to other counties to hold court.
Maine’s Superior Courts have jurisdiction over all criminal and civil issues except for family matters, civil violations, and juvenile cases. They also hold murder trials and hear Class A, B, C, D, and E criminal offense cases. These are most often jury trials. Additionally, Superior Courts can handle tort cases, real property issues, post-conviction reviews, civil lawsuits, small claims cases, and also appeals from local administrative agencies like municipal zoning boards and the Department of Human Services.
Originally, Superior Courts were established to take the caseload burden off the Supreme Court. With this change, the state also abolished Municipal Courts and became a unified justice system simplifying the court structure and making everything easier for patrons and court staff. The Maine Judicial Branch website is well organized and has dozens of resources to help individuals and attorneys involved in various types of cases. For Superior Court matters, they offer all the forms necessary for filings as well as electronic filing options and payments online. In an effort of transparency, the website also provides an area that clearly lists all court fees related to each type of filing and legal action taken in Superior Courts.
For the last year tallied, Superior Courts processed a total of 4,036 cases. Of those, 829 were criminal cases and 3,207 were civil cases.
Appeals from Superior Court must go directly to the Supreme Court.