FILE - ME Leigh Saufley 2-26-2019

Maine Supreme Court Chief Justice Leigh Saufley is greeted by lawmakers Feb. 26, 2019, as she arrives to deliver her annual state of the judiciary address to a joint convention of the Legislature.

(The Center Square) – Maine has a new Supreme Judicial Court chief justice, filling a more than year-long vacancy on the state's highest court.
 
On Thursday, the state Senate voted unanimously to confirm former Superior Court judge Valerie Stanfill to lead the seven-member court, less than a month after she was nominated by Gov. Janet Mills.
 
In a statement, Mills congratulated Stanfill and praised her for having a "sharp intellect, vast legal experience, and commitment to administering justice fairly and impartially." 
 
"I firmly believe that she will be an exceptional Chief Justice and that the Court will benefit considerably from her skills and expertise," Mills said. "I congratulate Justice Stanfill and look forward to swearing her in so she can take the helm of Maine’s Judicial Branch."
 
She will replace Leigh Saufley, who served as the state's first female chief justice before she stepped down more than a year ago to accept a job as dean of the University of Maine's School of Law in Portland.

Stanfill, 63, a former legal aid attorney and lecturer at the University of Maine, has served on the state's Superior Court since February 2020 and District Court prior to that, according to the Mills administration.

She graduated with honors from the University of Maine School of Law and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Mills has appointed two other justices to the Supreme Judicial Court since taking office in 2019, both of whom have been confirmed. 
 
Stanfill is expected to be sworn into office later this month.