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Hon. Daniel E. Wathen
Chief Justice Wathen was born and raised in Easton, Maine. He is a graduate of Easton High School, Ricker College, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Virginia School of Law. He was admitted to the Maine Bar in 1965 and began his practice at the law firm of Wathen & Wathen in Augusta, Maine.
In 1977, Governor James Longley appointed Wathen to the Maine Superior Court. In 1981 he was appointed an Associate Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Joseph Brennan and served in that capacity until being named Chief Justice. During his tenure as Chief Justice, he led the Court in many initiatives that improved the functioning of the Court system for low-income and self-represented litigants and which strengthened the legal aid providers. These included two statewide forums on the work of Maine’s civil legal providers, formation of the Justice Action Group as a planning body for Maine’s justice system, and establishment of the Family Division of the Maine Courts to provide better access to self-represented litigants. Chief Justice Wathen reached out to legal aid providers, domestic violence organizations and many other Court users in developing partnerships to strengthen Court services that continue to the present day.
Following his retirement from the bench in 2001, Chief Justice Wathen joined Pierce Atwood where he now spends a substantial portion of his time serving as an arbitrator, mediator, and neutral in complex cases in Maine and around the country. Chief Justice Wathen is also a part-time member of the faculty of the University of Maine at Augusta, teaching undergraduate courses in constitutional law and the judicial process.
He has remained active on behalf of the legal aid community on various Justice Action Group initiatives, as the co-chair of the Coffin Fellowship Advisory Committee, and as a pro bono trainer for legal aid staff.
Wathen is a member of the Maine State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and Maine Bar Foundation. In addition, he currently serves as Court Master by appointment of the Maine Superior Court in class action litigation involving the operation of a state psychiatric hospital and the community mental health system throughout Maine.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Judicial College, a member of the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the Advisory Board of the Leadership Institute for Judicial Education, and the Board of Directors of the National Conference of Chief Justices.
Chief Justice Wathen has received honorary degrees from Thomas College, the University of New England and the University of Maine at Augusta. Among the awards he has received in recent years are a Special Service Award from the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Howard Dana Award from the Maine Bar Foundation, Professional of the Year Award from Maine Child Abuse Action Network, leadership award from the Commission on Safety and Health in the Maine Workplace, Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Southern Maine, and a Distinguished Service Award from Maine Seniors.