Maine Court Records
How do Maine Courts work?
The Supreme Court resides as the highest legal authority in the state of Maine. It has the discretion to oversee and review any decision made by the Court of Appeals, weighing in on key issues, debates, and conflicts. The Court of Appeals in turn carries out a similar function over the lower courts when one party contests a decision made. These lower courts are made up of the 16 superior and trial courts in the 16 state counties.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
Maine court records are made up of civil and small claims cases, with key differences between the two categories. For example, civil cases deal with petitioners who are looking for over $175,000 in the state of Maine, of which there are just under 150,000 per year. These can be monetary disputes, but can also involve cases over name changes, property disputes, and restraining orders. On the other hand, small claims cases deal with petitioners looking for $4,500 or under in Maine, of which there are also close to 150,000 per year. These can include disputes over loans, warranties, repairs, deposits, and more, as long as the total value is below $4,500. Small claims courts can also order the defendant into doing something, such as paying back a fee.
Appeals and court limits
There are also a number of differences between the way in which the appeals process works in small claims and civil cases, as well as what is allowed in each court. For example, pretrial discovery is only allowed in civil court, and not small claims cases. In civil court, either party can appeal a decision, whereas only the defendant can appeal in a small claims case. A person may not have a lawyer represent them or files papers for them in small claims court, but they may in civil court matters. Small claims court has a filing fee of between $30 and $100 per claims, and parties are then given between 30 and 70 days to complete their cases. In civil court, there is a filing fee of between $180 and $320, and parties are given up to 120 days to complete their cases. Finally, in small claims court, a person does not have to be a US citizen to file or defend, and can use an interpreter if needed.
Why are court records public?
The Maine Freedom of Access Act was passed back in 1959, with the latest changes coming in 2004. This act ensured that all residents in the state had the right to request access to public records. All records maintained by either state or local government can be accessed and copied by the public. This helps to promote transparency and safeguard the accountability of the government.
To access files:
Maine Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's Office
205 Newbury Street,
Portland, ME 04101-4125