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Maine’s chief justice discusses breast cancer, opioid crisis

February 27, 2018

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine Chief Justice Leigh Saufley used her annual address to lawmakers Tuesday to propose a new drug court in response to the opioid crisis, provide an update on digitizing court records — and announce that she’s battled breast cancer.

Saufley said she was diagnosed last summer thanks to an annual test that detected breast cancer. She said she completed surgeries and radiation treatment and has emerged “on the other side.”

She used the opportunity to urge women over age 40 to get annual mammograms. She said there are programs available to defray the cost for those who have to pay out of pocket.

“Get your mammograms done. Really, I mean it. Don’t make me enter an order. Just do it,” she told a joint session of the Maine Legislature.

During her address, she provided an update on efforts to put court records online, talked about courthouse security and proposed a “full wrap-around drug court.”

Lawmakers gave announcement of the drug court a standing ovation. Saufley said the pilot program, which has the blessing of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, would include addiction treatment, mental health services, job training, sober housing and other services.

She asked for funding for the pilot program.

“Significant resources are needed in the communities for treatment, case management, testing and all of the needed services. That is where your focus and funding efforts should go. Please, help us expand our response to this heartbreaking crisis,” she said.

The effort to put records online is moving slowly to balance transparency with privacy concerns regarding documents with dates of birth, financial information and other sensitive information, she said.

As for security, she said judicial marshals provide screening on 70 percent of days and that she’s proposing improvements to bring it to 100 percent. She noted that marshals prevented firearms from getting into courtrooms six times in 2017.

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