Jurisprudence Cluster Course

Jurisprudence Cluster Course

Oct. 4 – Nov. 8, 2017

Always on the lookout for innovative ways to enhance our course offerings, Curriculum Committee Co-Chair, Paul Somoza came up with the idea of cluster courses early this year. Instead of the traditional single instructor course on a specific topic, the cluster course would bring together several instructors to cover different aspects of a general topic. After months of planning, the first two cluster courses are included in CSC’s Fall Term—Staying in Charge, Proactive Aging in collaboration with Lincoln HealthCARE, and There Ought to be a Law! Demystifying the Law and How it Works.

Paul approached fellow Curriculum Committee members, Harold Schramm and Bob Stephan with his idea for a jurisprudence cluster course. Harold is a retired professor of English and Legal Studies at Western Connecticut State University, and Bob is a retired corporate attorney. The idea was to come up with a set of classes that would focus on different aspects of the law and the legal system that would interest seniors not only from a practical standpoint, but also current topics that would appeal to seniors’ intellectual curiosity. The next step would be to come up with qualified instructors to teach those classes—most likely practicing attorneys with the right practice areas and public officials, such as our local district attorneys or retired judges.

Our first concept meeting took place in early spring at Attorney David Levesque’s law office in Damariscotta. David provided his wealth of experience and contacts—he is a former President of the Maine State Bar Association, among other activities. Also attending were former District Judge John Atwood, who is very active in the community, Paul Somoza, Harold and Bob. The meeting was essentially a brainstorming session on what topics would attract and retain the interest of non-lawyers, without getting too much into the weeds. This would not be a self-help course. We wanted some practicality, but also general interest and lively interaction between instructors and students. David agreed to produce a draft list of session topics with some suggestions on possible instructors.

In the weeks that followed Bob and Harold followed up on David’s list of possible instructors and refined the list of topics that eventually morphed into a draft course syllabus. John Atwood put us in touch with Judge Billings in Wiscasset, who was instrumental in enlisting District Attorney Jonathan Liberman and defense attorney Jonathan Handelman for the criminal justice session.

These efforts culminated in a course syllabus consisting of six weekly two-hour classes covering a General Overview of the Law, Estate Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Property  Rights & Contracts, Land Use and Criminal Justice. The instructors are all practicing attorneys in the midcoast area plus the District Attorney. Bob and Harold are delighted with the Jurisprudence Course offering this fall and are confident that it will provide an excellent model for the Spring Term 2018.


Classes meet on successive Wednesdays, Oct. 4—Nov. 8, 10:00 am—12:00 noon at Porter Hall, Skidompha Library, 184 Main Street, Damariscotta ME. Moderators: Harold Schramm 207-529-5685; Robert Stephan 203-829-1527.

Class 1 Oct. 4 Overview David Levesque and Bill Robitzek

  • Intro. To Law, Sources of Law, Jurisdiction, Trials and Appeals, Supreme Court.
  • Small claims court
  • Jury duty, Arbitration and mediation

Class 2 Oct. 11. Estate Planning Richard Abbondanza

  • Protecting and preserving assets
  • Estate and transfer tax planning
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them

Class 3 Oct. 18 Elder Law Jim Gallagher and Marcia DeGeer

  • Wills, trusts, probate and trust administration, choosing an executor or trustee, advanced health care directives, durable powers of attorney
  • Overview of the history of Elder Law
  • Planning for incapacity, understanding capacity
  • Spouse entering long-term care, Medicare/MaineCare eligibility
  • Estate plan options for family members with special needs and disabilities

Class 4 Oct. 25 Real Estate, Property Rights & Contracts David Levesque

  • Realtor’s obligations, conflicts of interest, seller/buyer rights, debt/foreclosure
  • Property disputes, nuisances
  • Contract rights and obligations, remedies, common issues affecting seniors

Class 5 Nov. 1 Land Use

  • Zoning, Land Use, easements, shoreline rights/obligations Jennifer Villeneuve
  • Eminent domain Harold Schramm and Robert Stephan

Class 6 Nov. 8 Criminal Justice Jonathan Liberman and Jonathan Handelman

  • How crimes are defined
  • Substantive vs. procedural criminal law
  • Rules of evidence, basis for appeals, Jury duty
  • Juvenile issues
  • Victims rights and remedies
  • Criminal activity affecting seniors, identity theft, scams, self-help measures


Instructor Biographies

David Levesque, Esq., Law Office of David Levesque, P.A., Damariscotta

Attorney David Levesque is the owner of the Law Office of David Levesque, P.A. He has a general civil law practice with concentrations in tax, real estate, business matters, and civil litigation which he conducts out of his office in Damariscotta, Maine. In addition to his political science undergraduate degree from the University of Maine at Farmington, Attorney Levesque holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Southern Maine, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maine School of Law.

Attorney Levesque serves on the Board of Visitors of the University of Maine at Farmington. He is a past President of the Maine State Bar Association and a former President of the Lincoln County Bar Association. He also is the Division Two (Member benefits) Director and a Council member of the American Bar Association’s Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division. Originally from Ellsworth, Maine, Attorney Levesque now resides in Newcastle, Maine.

Bill Robitzek, Maine Lawyer Services, Brunswick

Bill Robitzek worked for 35 years as a trial attorney in Maine handling all kinds and sizes of cases. He has had experience with hundreds of jury trials. Now, he has started a mediation and arbitration practice, working with attorneys to help resolve their cases short of trial. He is the former president of the Maine State Bar Association and the New England Bar Association. Currently he serves as the president of the Maine Justice Foundation, an organization devoted to raising funds for the state’s providers of legal services to the poor.

Richard Abbondanza, Hopkinson & Abbondanza, Portland

Attorney Richard Abbondanza is a partner in the Portland law firm of Hopkinson & Abbondanza. He received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College, cum laude, and his law degree from Catholic University of America. Mr. Abbondanza regularly speaks on the subjects of estate planning, retirement planning and real estate and business succession planning. He is admitted to practice in all Maine courts. He is a member of the Maine Estate Planning Council, WealthCounsel, a national association of estate planning attorneys and advisors, and a graduate of the two-year Laureate Program of the Southern California Institute.

Mr. Abbondanza currently is serving on the Boards of North Yarmouth Academy and Lift360 (the successor to the Institution for Civic Leadership). He has served as an Adjunct Lecturer for Merrimack College’s CFP estate planning review course and also on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine and Woodfords Family Services.

James W. Gallagher, Gallagher, Villeneuve, DeGeer PLLC, Damariscotta

Attorney James Gallagher is a native of Damariscotta. He received his undergraduate degree at MacMurray College in Jacksonville Illinois, where he met his wife Barbara, and his law degree from Washburn University of Topeka Law School. Following service as Assistant  District Attorney and Deputy District Attorney, Jim opened his own law office over his garage in Damariscotta in 1979 and shortly thereafter built the current building on Main Street in which he has practiced ever since. In 1987 Jim and Attorney Gordon E. Stein formed the partnership of Gallagher and Stein. In January of 2013 Jim and his daughter Jennifer Gallagher Villeneuve became partners in the practice of law, still under the name of Gallagher and Stein. In January of 2014 Jim turned the daily operation of the practice over to his daughter but continues to serve his clients, working part time.

Attorney Gallagher has served on many local boards, including Lincoln Academy, MOBIUS, Lincoln Home, Damariscotta Region Information Bureau. Gallagher also served for twenty years as Lincoln County Commissioner. He served as Chairman of the County Commissioners for 7 years and Chairman of the Maine County Commissioners’ Association and the County Commissioners Insurance Risk Pool. He also served as a Director and delegate to the National Association of Counties (NACo), representing Maine in the National Association. Now semi-retired, Jim looks forward to watching his daughter carry on the legal profession, a profession that was handed down to him from his father, Hon. Ralph A. Gallagher who practiced law in Damariscotta from 1935 until his death in 1965, serving as Judge in what is now known as the District Court in the 1950s. He also enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, wife and twin brother John who also lives locally.

Jennifer G. Villeneuve, Gallagher, Villeneuve, DeGeer PLLC, Damariscotta

Attorney Jennifer Villeneuve represents clients in the areas of Real Estate, Estate Planning, Probate, Corporations and also provides counsel and representation for Municipalities. Jenny began her practice in New Hampshire as an Assistant County Attorney, prosecuting in the Domestic Violence Unit in the Strafford County District Courts. She subsequently worked as a Staff Attorney for the New Hampshire Municipal Association where she provided legal counsel to over 200 member municipalities, provided educational seminars and trainings for municipal officials and prepared Amicus briefs on important municipal issues for both the Supreme and Superior Courts of New Hampshire.

Attorney Villeneuve returned to her hometown, Damariscotta, in 2004 to join in practice with her father, James Gallagher and his late partner Gordon Stein. She has enjoyed representing local, relocating and seasonal residential clients since then in a variety of general practice areas. Primarily, Jenny is focused on facilitating reasonable solutions for simple and complex property matters. She also is skilled in careful creation of long terms plans based on client’s lifestyle goals and interests in leaving a legacy for their loved ones. Jenny also enjoys practice management and is constantly reviewing internal practices to assure GVD attorneys and clients have access to all of the best resources to produce excellent quality work in an efficient manner. Jenny represents the diverse client base of the Mid-Coast region, striving to continue her father and grandfather, Hon. Ralph A. Gallagher’s family legacy of being a true “country lawyer”, having a reputation for resolving legal matters with a strong dose of common sense.

Jenny graduated from the University of New Hampshire with an undergraduate degree in Music in 1996 and a Juris Doctor degree in 2000 (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center). She resides in Alna with her husband and two school-aged children. She spends much of her spare time outdoors in all seasons, tending to the small family farm or supporting equestrian aspirations.

Marcia E. DeGeer, Esq., Gallagher, Villeneuve and DeGeer, PLLC, Damariscotta

Attorney Marcia DeGeer concentrates her practice on family law, elder law, estate planning, real estate and probate. She is the founder of the Law Office of Marcia E. DeGeer (2011 to  2015). Prior to opening her own practice, she was an attorney at Skadden, Arps, Meagher, and Flom LLP in New York City.

Marcia grew up in Maine and received her under graduate degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington (BA 1998). She graduated cum laude from New England Law/ Boston (JD 2003) and was admitted to New York State in 2004 and Maine in 2010. Marcia is a rostered Guardian Ad Litem with the Maine District Court and a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for children). She is also a trained mediator. Marcia is a member of the Maine State Bar Association serving as a District 4 Governor on the Board and a member of the Lincoln County Bar Association. She served on the board of Healthy Kids in Lincoln County (2010-2013), and Maine Family Planning (2010-present). Marcia also contributes her free time to her daughter’s school, Damariscotta Montessori School. Marcia continues her studies with issues pertaining to children and families, elder law, alternative dispute resolution, and estate planning. She lives in Nobleboro with her husband Derek, aka Hootenanny Bread, and their daughter Frances.

Jonathan Liberman, District Attorney, Prosecutorial District 6, Lincoln County Courthouse, Wiscasset

Attorney Liberman is the District Attorney for Prosecutorial District 6, which includes Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties.

Jon moved to Bath, Maine when he was 11 years old from Evanston, Illinois. He went to Bath Middle School, Cheverus High School, and Syracuse University for college. He graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 2010. He got his first taste of prosecution prior to graduating law school as a student prosecutor for the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office. While acting as a student prosecutor, he successfully tried a criminal case to a jury and successfully argued a case to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Jon also gained experience handling cases at other court appearances, including arraignments, motions to suppress, and various stages of plea negotiations.

After law school, Mr. Liberman began working as an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in Knox County. After a year, he continued as an ADA in Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties. Former District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau appointed him as his Deputy District Attorney for District 6 in July of 2016. After Geoffrey Rushlau became a District Court Judge in May of 2016, Governor Lepage appointed Liberman as the District Attorney for District 6.

Throughout his career, District Attorney Liberman prosecuted all types of crimes, including violent crimes, domestic violence, child abuse, burglaries, sexual assaults, drug trafficking, impaired driving, theft, and many other crimes.

Jon lives in West Bath with his wife, Erin, and their 2 year old son, Benjamin.

Jonathan Handelman, Handelman & Mason, Brunswick

Attorney Jonathan Handelman began practicing law as a solo attorney immediately after graduating from Maine Law in 2005. In law school he interned at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Portland and thought being a prosecutor would be a good fit so he waited for the District Attorneys to start taking notice of his skills. After a few short months representing Mainers,  however, he realized his loyalties did not lie with The Man. Instead he fights for the people who are charged with crimes and facing the inherent imbalance of the criminal justice system. His path to criminal defense was a curious one: for ten years he taught high school English in Massachusetts, then English Literature at the University of New England. Back in his teacher days, Jonathan earned a Masters degree and a PhD in English Literature. Although he was raised in upstate New York, Jonathan moved to Maine with his family in 2000 and has never regretted that decision. When he is not passionately defending the rights of his clients, Jonathan spends time on the waters of Casco Bay and beyond, sailing. When those waters are too cold for sailing, he counts the days until it is warm enough to sail once again.