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Chief Justice Leigh I. Saufley, of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court presented Douglas Darby, of Portland, with the “Volunteer of the Year Award.”
In presenting the award the Chief Justice said:
“This award recognizes that person who, in a volunteer capacity, assists the Judicial Branch in fulfilling its mission of administering justice by providing an accessible, efficient and impartial system of dispute resolution. In presenting this award to Doug, the Judiciary recognizes that Doug exemplifies the volunteer spirit that the courts in Maine benefit from.”
“Mr. Darby is a volunteer with the criminal team in the Portland District Court. As we all know, that is a very, very busy office. His assistance is desperately needed and very much appreciated. More so, this year, when due to budget cuts we have been operating with a severely reduced staff. We sincerely appreciate his dedication to the Maine justice system.”
“This was a difficult decision, as it always is, because we have a number of worthy and very dedicated volunteers. Doug stood out, however, because of his work ethic, personality, and stature. Doug started volunteering in Feb. 2008, and has worked every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings since then. He is accurate and reliable, extremely important attributes for the courts, and, in addition to the normal duties, Doug, at 6’6” can reach where others need a ladder!”
The award was presented at a lunchtime ceremony in which employees were receiving length of service awards.
MAINE VOLUNTEERS FOR JUSTICE
The Judicial Branch has a statewide volunteer program called Maine Volunteers for Justice that engages volunteers within the court system in a variety of ways. Our mission is three-fold: to increase public access to justice; to support the efficiency of the courts; and to promote better public understanding of Maine's judicial system and the judicial process. This program is managed by the AOC Human Resources Department.
We work with individual volunteers of various backgrounds who step forward to find meaningful activity in service with the Judicial Branch.These opportunities include skilled and unskilled clerical work; information booth assistance; jury management; courtroom assistance; electronic recording using a tape-recorder and standardized log; and special projects ranging from assistance with media and publications to data analysis. Law school students may volunteer as law clerks. We also collaborate with institutions, such as colleges, universities, and law schools to create service and internship opportunities with specific educational value. Other opportunities include enlisting service groups for large projects such as archiving closed files and recruiting service groups, from University Extension Homemakers, to fraternities, sororities, and religious education classes of all denominations, to help us provide local courts with KiddieDitty bags, which are small gifts of crayons, paper, and toys, to help children waiting in the hallways pass the time more comfortably.
With the exception of KiddieDitty bags, which are needed in all courts, needs and opportunities vary from court to court and volunteer to volunteer. The volunteer and the volunteer supervisor agree on a mutually beneficial opportunity, as well as the time commitment necessary.
Opportunities may start with as few as four hours per week. We currently have 25 volunteers located in 12 courthouses around the state, as well as numerous groups who prepare KiddieDitty bags. Potential volunteers must go through an application and background check process prior to being referred for the interview and selection process.