Judicial Branch Announces Process for the Appointment of Court-Paid Attorney Referees in Select Civil and Family Cases

Date: 7/24/2023

The Judicial Branch announced today that it is implementing a process described in a new Administrative Order for the appointment of attorneys to serve as court-paid referees in certain non-jury civil and family cases. Administrative Order JB-23-04 (Order) has an effective date of July 18, 2023. In addition to this Order, Administrative Order JB-22-03 (A. 3-22), Order Regarding Referees, is still in effect. JB-22-03 (A. 3-22) applies to retired judges who are appointed as court-paid referees. The new Order builds upon the success of that process to allow Maine attorneys, in addition to retired judges, to be appointed as court-paid referees.

Under the Order, parties must select an attorney who is willing to accept appointment as a court-paid referee. All parties must agree to the appointment of that attorney-referee. The Judicial Branch will not maintain a roster of attorneys to serve as court-paid referees under the Order. If appointed, the attorney-referee will hear the matter and prepare a report for submission to the court, following the procedure for referees described in Rule 53 of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure.

The Order provides that the referee must be a Maine-licensed attorney who has received a "vendor code" with the Judicial Branch and sets the hourly rate and maximum number of hours (20) the referee can bill without prior approval from the court. The Order also contains instructions on how to request a vendor code, submit a Referee Contract, and submit invoices for payment and reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.

Non-jury civil and family cases may be heard by the referee. The Order does not apply to criminal, juvenile, protection from abuse, protection from harassment, child protection, adoption of minors, guardianship of minors, and name change of minor cases.

Commenting on the Order, Supreme Court Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill said, "The process outlined in AO JB-23-04 is intended to provide parties with an additional tool to help resolve certain non-jury civil cases that may have been delayed as a result the COVID-19 pandemic."

Several new and revised Judicial Branch court forms will be used in connection with the court-paid attorney referee process under JB-23-04. These forms will be available on the Judicial Branch website on July 25, 2023, the effective date of this process. The forms include:

  • Motion for Appointment of Court-Paid Attorney Referee (CV-FM-288)
  • Agreement to Appointment of Court-Paid Attorney Referee (CV-FM-289)
  • Court-Paid Attorney Referee Voucher (CV-FM-291)

Contact: Barbara Cardone, Director of Legal Affairs and Public Relations
Barbara.cardone@courts.maine.gov | 207-213-2803

Supporting documents

AO JB-23-04 (PDF)