October 19, 2009
It will be a somewhat different homecoming for Todd R. Collins when he takes to the stage of the Fox Auditorium at his alma mater, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, next Tuesday morning.
The Fort Kent native and UMFK alumnus will present an oral argument for the state (prosecution) before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court when it meets in session in front of an audience of St. John Valley high school students.
The state’s highest court will meet in session at 9 a.m. on October 27, as it hears three cases at UMFK.
For the past five years, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has held oral arguments in actual appeals before high school students across the state.
The practice of appellate law is rarely seen on television, or in movies. Through its local appearances, the Court hopes to supplement the education and exposure of Maine students to the judicial branch of government.
Collins, an assistant district attorney for Aroostook County, will argue an appeal from a judgment entered in the Superior Court granting a motion to suppress evidence seized from a vehicle during a checkpoint stop.
Collins has been with the District Attorney’s Office since 2002. During that time, he has prosecuted a wide-range of misdemeanor and felony charges. He also has assisted local police departments with criminal investigations; presented grand jury indictments; prepared cases for trial; corresponded with victims and witnesses; and tried criminal cases.
Collins was born and raised in Fort Kent, and attended the Market Street School, Fort Kent Elementary School, (Fort Kent) Community High School, and UMFK. He spent his senior year of high school at UMFK, earning both high school and college credits, through an early college program.
He graduated UMFK in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in English, along with minors in biology and environmental studies. Collins later graduated from Vermont Law School with a Juris Doctor degree in 1998.
He worked in the Strafford County Attorney’s Office in Dover, New Hampshire, for three years, before returning to Aroostook County in 2002 to raise a family, along with his wife, Sharron (Smart) Collins. They are the parents of four children, ages 8, 6, 4 and 2.
“It is an interesting set of circumstances,” Collins says, “to be practicing law before the high court, on the stage of your alma mater, and in your home town.”
“First, you must have graduated from UMFK, which I did. Second, you must have an appeals case pending at the time. And third, you must be selected to present your case before the court,” Collins notes.
Although Collins never stepped on-stage while attending UMFK, he does not appear particularly concerned about doing so. After all, he has presented before the Court previously, included one other time in the non-traditional court setting of the gymnasium of Hampden Academy.
Still, he says that he wants to proudly represent his hometown community and UMFK.
“It’s not quite like stepping out onto the field of Fenway Park,” Collins says, “but it is a real honor.”
Collins says he is not aware of any family or friends who may be in attendance next week when he presents before the Court, but he has several colleagues and former classmates in Fort Kent, so he would not be surprised if one of them might be there.
Collins taught Constitutional Law at UMFK in 2005, as an adjunct faculty member. During that class, he lectured students on the interplay between the Constitution of the United States and its citizens, through common everyday life.
Next Tuesday at UMFK, Todd Collins will once again have an opportunity to bring those same lessons in Constitutional Law to life for students. ###