Vincent L. McKusick

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Vincent Lee McKusick
Chief Justice of the
Maine Supreme Judicial Court
In office
September 16, 1977 – February 28, 1992
Appointed byJames B. Longley
Personal details
Born(1921-10-21)October 21, 1921
Parkman, Maine, U.S.
DiedDecember 3, 2014(2014-12-03) (aged 93)
Falmouth, Maine, U.S.
Nancy Elizabeth Green (m. 1951)
RelationsVictor A. McKusick (brother)
Alma materBates College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard Law School
ProfessionLawyer, judge

Vincent Lee McKusick (October 21, 1921 – December 3, 2014) was an American attorney and Chief Justice of Maine.[1][2][3] At the time of his death McKusick worked at the firm Pierce Atwood in Portland, Maine as of Counsel.

His most prominent rulings included Connecticut v. New Hampshire, Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado and Louisiana v. Mississippi.

McKusick began practicing law with Pierce Atwood in 1952. For twenty-five years—until he was appointed by Governor James B. Longley as Maine's Chief Justice—McKusick engaged in general practice with the firm.[4]

Prior to joining Pierce Atwood in 1952, McKusick served successively as law clerk to Chief Judge Learned Hand of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and to Justice Felix Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court. From 1943 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Army, in part in Los Alamos, New Mexico, participating in the Manhattan Project.


McKusick received his A.B. degree from Bates College (1943), his S.B. and S.M. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1947), and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School (1950), where he served as President of the Harvard Law Review.

Chief Justice[edit]

In 1977, Governor Longley appointed McKusick Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, the first such appointment directly from the bar since the appointment of Chief Justice Prentiss Mellen in 1820. Chief Justice McKusick had responsibility for managing Maine's entire court system as well as for presiding over its highest appellate court. Over the years, he had been deeply involved in modernizing the rules of procedure for the Maine courts, serving on rules committees appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court and co-authoring two editions of the classic work on Maine Civil Practice.

For his public service in the courts, McKusick received the American Judicature Society's Herbert Harley Award in 1982 and the Neal W. Allen Award for Community Leadership of the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce in 1988. In 1991, Cumberland County named its newly expanded courthouse for the Chief Justice. Vincent was the 1999 recipient of the National Center for State Court's Paul C. Reardon Award given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the administration of justice nationally and to the work of the National Center.[citation needed]

During 1990-91, his fellow chief justices elected McKusick President of the National Conference of Chief Justices and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts. He has served and continues to serve on the council of the American Law Institute, and also has served on the governing boards of the American Philosophical Society, the American Arbitration Association, and the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society. Since his retirement on February 28, 1992, McKusick has served "of counsel" to Pierce Atwood. In July 1992, he served on a pro bono basis as the neutral arbitrator for the determination of the terms under which Long Island would separate from the City of Portland.[5]

By appointment of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Vincent served in 1995-96 as Master in the liquidation of American Mutual Liability Insurance Co. and an affiliate. Among numerous arbitrations conducted by him since retirement from the Court, he served in 1996 as the neutral arbitrator in San Francisco in a substantial contract dispute between a major public utility and an independent power marketer.[5]

In recent years he has successfully mediated a dispute over the disposition of the proceeds from the sale of two not-for-profit hospitals in Massachusetts, as well as a legal malpractice claim of a government agency against a large international law firm. Currently he is engaged in further substantial commercial arbitrations for the American Arbitration Association. Late in 1992, he led a small State Department delegation to the Republic of Georgia to advise on court reform, and by President George H. W. Bush's appointment he served from 1993 to 2001 as one of the five members of the Committee to Administer the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise.[5]


McKusick died on December 3, 2014 in Falmouth, Maine, aged 93.[5][6]

Professional activities[edit]

  • Maine Commissioner on Uniform State Laws (1968–76); Secretary, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (1975–77)
  • Chairman, Drafting Committee on Uniform Jury Selection and Service Act (1969–70)
  • Member (1971–80) and Chairman (1976–77), Board of Editors, American Bar Association Journal
  • Chairman, Review Committee on Uniform Rules of Criminal Procedure (1973–74)
  • Member, Council of American Law Institute (1968 to present)
  • Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation; member, Board of Directors (1977–87)
  • Member, American Bar Association delegation on China Study Visit (1978)
  • Member, U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Private International Law (1981–85, 1992–93)
  • Member, Federal-State Relations Subcommittee of the Judicial Conference of the United States (1982–87)
  • Chairman, National Awards Jury, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge (1982)
  • Leader, People to People Judges Visit to People's Republic of China (1983) and to Soviet Union (1988)
  • Delegate to American Bar Association House of Delegates representing Conference of Chief Justices (1983–87)
  • Member, Advisory Committee on Federal Appellate Rules (1984–87)
  • Member, Federal-State Jurisdiction Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States (1987–89)
  • Conference of Chief Justices (1977 to 1992); Board of Directors (1980–82, 1987–88); President-Elect (1989–90); President (1990–91); Standing Committee of Past Presidents (1992 to present)
  • National Center for State Courts, Board of Directors (1988–91); Chairman-Elect (1989–90); Chairman (1990–91)
  • Leader, U.S. State Department "Rule of Law" Delegation to the Republic of Georgia (1992)
  • Director, American Judicature Society (1992–98)
  • State Membership Chairman (1992–94) and Trustee (1993–2006), Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Council, American Bar Association's Senior Lawyers Division (1997 to 2001)
  • American Arbitration Association, Board of Directors (1994–2006)


In 1993, the University of Maine awarded him and his identical twin brother, medical geneticist Victor A. McKusick, its inaugural Maine Prize for their "nationally recognized contributions to the quality of life."


  1. ^ "Ilissa A. Kimball To Wed in April". The New York Times. January 19, 1986. Retrieved 2010-01-18. He served as law clerk to Chief Justice Vincent L. McKusick of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland.
  2. ^ Linda Greenhouse (November 1, 1995). "Supreme Court Awards Island to Mississippi". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-18. Justice McKusick concluded in a 33-page opinion last October that the entire area belonged to Mississippi under the Court's principles for tracking wandering islands in shifting riverbeds.
  3. ^ Biodata,; accessed December 9, 2014.
  4. ^ Profile,; accessed December 9, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "McKusick, retired Maine chief justice, dies at 93". Houston Chronicle. December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  6. ^ Former Chief Justice Vincent McKusick dies,; accessed December 7, 2014.