AUGUSTA, Maine—Patrick Ende, chief legal counsel for Gov. John Baldacci and former advocate for low-income Mainers, was praised for his intellect and problem-solving skills Wednesday before a legislative committee voted unanimously to approve his appointment as a District Court judge.
Ende, of Hallowell, who's been Baldacci's top legal aide for two years, won a 13-0 endorsement of the Judiciary Committee, setting the stage for almost-certain Senate confirmation next week.
The Judiciary Committee is reviewing 11 judicial nominees this week in advance of next Wednesday's Senate session. The Senate also will vote on 50 nominations by the governor to numerous other state boards and commissions that deal with environmental, gambling, agricultural, labor, corrections, elections, financial and economic development issues.
Prominent among the nominations is that of David Littell of Portland to the Public Utilities Commission to fill out the term of PUC Chairwoman Sharon Reishus, who stepped down in July.
Littell, who has served as commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection for the last five years, appears Thursday before the Utilities and Energy Committee.
During Ende's hearing before the Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Janet Mills pronounced herself a "party crasher" for showing up uninvited to deliver strong testimony in his support. She said her office had worked hundreds of hours with him to solve legal issues facing the state.
"We all in my office treasure his advice, his input in so many complicated and complex areas," Mills said.
Raised in a New York housing project, Ende spent 16 years as an attorney for Pine Tree Legal Assistance before joining another low-income advocacy group, Maine Equal Justice Partners, and later the governor's office.