Trial and Error

The Outcry for Justice in the Dennis Dechaine Case

The Presiding Judge: Not all believe justice should decide case for new trial

Jul 4, 2010

The judge assigned to hear the latest motion for a new trial for Dennis Dechaine is no stranger to the case.

Superior Court Justice Carl O. Bradford oversaw the March 1989 trial. After the jury convicted Dechaine of the murder of 12-year-old Sarah Cherry, Bradford sentenced the 31-year-old farmer to life in prison.

Maine has no death penalty.

Under the legislation that paved the way for Dechaine’s latest legal effort, the matter must be heard by the original trial judge if he or she is still available to preside.

The 77-year-old Bradford, although he technically retired in 1998, still hears cases when he is called upon by the state. He is one of four retired Superior Court judges who do so.

“His status is active retired, with a heavy emphasis on active,” said Judicial Branch spokeswoman Mary Ann Lynch.

Judges are prohibited from commenting publicly about active court cases, Lynch said.

Bradford, a Texas native, was appointed to the bench by Gov. Joseph Brennan in 1981, after practicing law for about 20 years.

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