Effective January 4, 2021, Benjamin “Ben” Tucker has joined the firm as a partner. The firm name has changed from Nichols & Churchill to Nichols & Tucker. My former partner, Sarah Churchill, has been appointed to The Maine District Court as a Judge. Sarah has been a great attorney and a great partner. She will, undoubtedly be a tremendous asset to the Maine Judiciary.
I have known Ben for a little over ten years from his early days as a dedicated criminal defense lawyer to his days at the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles as an administrative hearing examiner to his tenure as The Bureau’s Director of Legal Affairs. Ben brings Operating Under the Influence (OUI) legal expertise to the firm after serving in the latter two capacities while overseeing all administrative hearings and advising the agency on laws and regulations as The Director. As a hearing examiner, he held and decided thousands of OUI administrative hearings, ensuring fairness and due process for drivers facing license suspension.
For the eight years prior to working at the Bureau, Ben was in private practice in the Mid Coast area and in Cumberland County (Portland) handling criminal, civil and family law cases. As a criminal defense lawyer, Ben represented adults and juveniles in a wide variety of cases from criminal to OUI to serious felonies. He negotiated effectively on behalf of his clients, and when necessary, defended clients in trials He was and continues to be extremely highly regarded by his defense bar colleagues, judges and prosecutors alike. He often consulted with me on his criminal cases demonstrating a staunch dedication to providing his clients with the best defense possible.
The foregoing is a summary of Ben’s credentials. Those are not the only reasons that I decided to ask him to join me as a partner: The manner in which he went about his business as a criminal defense lawyer left a lasting impression on me. The overwhelming majority of Maine’s criminal defense lawyers are hardworking, caring people, but a few stand out because of their exceptional dedication and skill. Ben is a standout. Most of our administrative hearing examiners are, likewise, hardworking, caring people. During my 34 years of practice, Ben was peerless in our state. These administrative hearings are minitrials. The examiner functions as the “judge” and participates in the examination of witnesses from both sides, makes evidentiary rulings and decides the outcome of the cases. Many of my cases have involved complex chemistry and toxicological issues as well as legal issues beyond the typical administrative hearing. These kinds of issues are almost always beyond the scope of other examiners’ ability to understand and adjudicate. That was never the case with Ben. As the Director, he changed the bureaucratic system that was in place for the previous four decades plus by conducting on ongoing, comprehensive look into the existing system and fixing with a major emphasis on protecting the due process rights of people charged with OUI.
Ben graduated from Georgetown University, and later the University of Maine School of Law, where he served on the Law Review and graduated in the top ten of the Class of 2009. During law school, he published an article about Maine’s Freedom of Information law in: “Taking Notes in School (Committee): Cyr v. Madawaska, Blethen v. Portland School Committee, and the Public’s Right to Know,” 61 Me. L. Rev. 265 (2009).
He has also served on the Town Council and School Board of his hometown Brunswick, where he lives with his wife and two daughters, and is trying to turn them into Hoyas fans.