Portland District Attorney’s Office: Police Departments and DA Teams

In Cumberland County Maine, the criminal court is organized as a “Unified Criminal Docket.” This means that the District and Superior Courts are now unified into one Court that handles all criminal cases. Before unification, the DAs were assigned to prosecute either misdemeanors in district court or felonies in superior court; when the Court reorganized, it forced the District Attorney’s Office to restructure. Today, Assistant District Attorneys are assigned to color coded teams which are each responsable for covering all cases submitted by a particular group of law enforcement agencies.

Cumberland County District Attorney Teams

Photo chart showing the organization of Portland Maine District Attorney's Office

Chart of Portland Maine DA teams.

Cumberland County is policed by a myriad of agencies including State police, county sheriffs, municipal police, marshals, wardens and a host of other government officers responsable for various security or enforcement tasks. When an officer believes a crime has been committed they will arrest or summons a person for an arraignment date and then submit the case to the District Attorney’s Office. Cases that are not resolved at arraignment are set for a “Dispositional Conference” where the parties can discuss a negotiated resolution. Cases not resolved there are set for further proceedings and eventually a trial. Cases are divided between three prosecutorial teams as follows:

Red Team Prosecutors

  • Arraignments are on Tuesdays
  • Dispositional Conferences on Thursdays
  • Police Departments covered: Westbrook, Windham, Cumberland, USM, Bridgton, Frye Island, Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, West Bath, Brunswick, Freeport, Marine Patrol, Maine Warden Service, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Forest Service, Department of Labor.

Blue Team Prosecutors

  • Arraignments are on Wednesdays
  • Dispositional Conferences on Tuesdays
  • Police Departments covered: Maine State Police, South Portland, Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Gorham, Scarborough, Harbor Patrol, Fire Marshal.

Purple Team Prosecutors

  • Arraignments are on Thursdays
  • Dispositional Conferences on Wednesdays
  • Police Departments covered: Portland, Falmouth, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, Court Security, Department of Corrections, Rail Road Police, Bureau of Motor Vehicles Security.

Special Cases

Domestic violence charges: These are prosecuted by a separate division of the district attorney’s office with one of the prosecutors assigned to handle Portland cases and the other handling cases amongst the remaining two teams. The arraignment day is still determined by the police department.

Serious Drug Crimes: Crimes like drug trafficking and aggravated drug trafficking and some Drug Possession charges are prosecuted by an Assistant Attorney General based in the Portland District Attorney’s office. Most often, these crimes are investigated by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. Of course, there is nothing stoping other police from discovering drug crimes and so the drug prosecutor, though most commonly on the purple team, will handle some drug cases among the other two teams.

Multiple Offenses: Defendants who have multiple cases pending accross the county may have matters handled by two different teams. For scheduling purposes, the cases are often consolidated onto one set of dates usually matching the less serious case with dates set for the more serious one.

Defendants In Custody at Arraignment: Above, I noted the arraignment days used by each team. These days apply only to people who are not in custody at the time of arraignment  People who are arrested and do not make bail must be brought before the court with in 2 business days of arrest. Such arraignments are held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1pm and cases from all teams are handled on each day. Dispositional conference dates are set as normal.

Bridgton District Court: Cumberland County shares this court with Oxford County. Arraignments for some Cumberland County misdemeanors are held there on the third Tuesday of the month; Oxford County has arraignments on the second Tuesday. Cumberland County cases not resolved there will be set for dispositional conference in Portland.

Click the link for more information about Portland Unified Criminal Court procedure.

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