Goose Rocks case

In a decision issued Feb. 4, the supreme court states that it has vacated “the judgment awarding the town and backlot owners a prescriptive easement over Goose Rocks Beach, and deciding that the public has a right to engage in ocean-based activities in the intertidal zone pursuant to the public trust doctrine.” – Bangor Daily (2/5/14)

 

More here:

Press Herald 2/5/14

Press Herald 2/9/14

Bangor Daily News 2/9/14

 

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Funds for court-appointed attorneys runs out

“Attorneys assigned to represent criminal defendants facing jail time and others entitled to court-appointed counsel will not be paid during the month of June because the commission will run out of money at the end of May, John Pelletier, executive director of the commission, said last week.

Lawyers will be paid after July 1 for work done previously when the new fiscal year begins, he said. The same thing happened last year and in 2008, when the judiciary still was responsible for paying court-appointed attorneys.”

via BDN Maine.

Supreme Court to Allow Arguments Online

“Live audio streaming of Supreme Judicial Court arguments begins on Wednesday. Chief Justice Leigh Saufley announced the new service during her State of the Judiciary speech to the Legislature in February.

The court’s government and media counsel, Mary Ann Lynch, calls streaming a great step forward in making the work of the Supreme Judicial Court accessible “to all Maine people, no matter where they live.” Computers with Internet access are available in every public library in Maine.” via Bangor Daily News .

Watch online here: http://www.courts.state.me.us/maine_courts/supreme/stream.shtml

Court Approves LURC Rezoning for Plum Creek

The Supreme Court has removed one more hurdle for the developers of the Plum reek project around Moosehead Lake.  While the overall zoning has been changed, each individual project still needs to go through its own approval process.

The state supreme court supported the Land Use Regulation Commission’s rezoning of nearly 400,000 acres in the Moosehead region. The concept plan allows Plum Creek to create up to 975 house lots and two large resorts on roughly 16,000 of those acres over the next 30 years.

Plum Creek must receive permits for each subdivision or resort, all but guaranteeing the regulatory skirmishes with opponents are far from complete. But in the immediate future, the court’s ruling will trigger the completion of a conservation deal guaranteeing public access to 363,000 acres of timberland that will remain working forests. …

A Superior Court justice … halted the plan after determining LURC violated its own rules by not holding another public hearing before adopting a substantially rewritten rezoning application. He remanded the case back to LURC for additional hearings.

The Supreme Court disagreed Thursday. “We conclude that LURC did not violate its procedural rules and did not otherwise err by approving the rezoning petition and concept plan,” the court wrote.

via Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine.

Website for Mortgage Settlement

For more information on the settlement between the banks and states attorneys general is here:

http://nationalmortgagesettlement.com/

The settlement will provide as much as $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers and direct payments to states and the federal government. It’s the largest multistate settlement since the Tobacco Settlement in 1998.

The agreement settles state and federal investigations finding that the country’s five largest loan servicers routinely signed foreclosure related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without really knowing whether the facts they contained were correct.  Both of these practices violate the law.  The settlement provides benefits to borrowers whose loans are owned by the settling banks as well as to many of the borrowers whose loans they service.

Bank of America to Reduce Principals

As part of the foreclosure settlement, Bank of America will be offering principal reductions on mortgages originated by Countrywide.  NY Times:

The cuts for homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth could total more than $100,000 each under the deal with the government, according to Dan Frahm, a spokesman for Bank of America. Bank of America hopes it will be able to reduce what it owes in penalties under the settlement by up to $850 million.

Case Note: Scope of Implied Quasi-Easement

The Maine Supreme Court recently issued an opinion on a case concerning the scope of an implied quasi-easement.  The case concerned the rights of a landowner to expand the use of a right-of-way that they use to cross railroad tracks.

Because there was no written easement in the deeds, the landowner first had to show a history of use to prove there was a right-of-way.  While the court found that there was a history of transporting farm equipment and supplies, the court limited the right-of-way easement to just that usage.  The landowner had wanted to extend power lines across the railroad as part of a development plan, but the court ruled that the landowner could not expand the right-of-way beyond its use as a “farm crossing.”

The case is Connolly v. Central Maine Railroad Co. If you have questions about your easement rights, feel free to contact me.