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James Archibald, Maine judge for half century

BANGOR -- James P. Archibald, a Houlton native whose nearly half century as a Maine judge included service on the state Supreme Court bench, died May 28 at his winter home in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He was 94.

``This is really the passing of `the grand old man of the supreme judiciary,' " said Vincent McCusick, former Maine chief justice. ``He had a remarkable run, and he was one of the best."

Judge Archibald is also remembered as a gentleman, who treated everyone who came before his court with the same respect.

``He was always very relaxed and accommodating, a very nice man," said Aroostook County District Attorney Neale Adams, who recalled the first time he approached the Supreme Court bench in the early 1970s. Judge Archibald ``took some of the fear of being a young lawyer right out of you."

Judge Archibald, the son of Houlton lawyer Bernard Archibald, attended Bowdoin College and the Boston University School of Law before returning to Houlton in 1937.

Judge Archibald worked in his father's law firm and was elected Aroostook County attorney in 1941, and after military service during World War II was reelected to the post.

He was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1957 by Governor Edmund Muskie. Judge Archibald served as one of eight Superior Court justices until Governor Kenneth Curtis appointed him to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in 1971.

He became an active retired justice in 1981.

In an interview with the Bangor Daily News in 1996, Judge Archibald said he had ``made my share of mistakes."

``And any judge that says differently about himself is completely off the wall," he said. ``We're all human beings sitting up there. But as long as others consider me to have been a fair judge, what more can I ask?"

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