Lawyers proposed opening Maine’s first two public defender offices and a substantial pay raise for court-appointed counsel in a $35.4 million budget approved by the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services.
The lawsuit alleges the largest provider of inmate telephone services in Maine violated state and federal wiretapping laws when it recorded calls between inmates and attorneys. Public records obtained by The Maine Monitor show Securus’ system recorded at least 161 inmates speaking with lawyers at three county jails.
Gov. Janet Mills publicly called for a bipartisan effort to reform Maine’s defense system for poor people accused of crimes in response to an investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica.
Leah Kerwin began receiving daily texts and videos explicitly requesting sex. They came from her court-appointed attorney, who had already been suspended for other misconduct. When she spoke up, the situation got worse.
Maine is the only state in the country with no public defender system. A nine-month investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found that legal services for the poor are left to private attorneys, who face disproportionately high amounts of discipline and an office that doesn’t supervise them.
Maine lawyers sued the jail phone provider Securus Technologies on Thursday amid mounting evidence that confidential communications are being recorded and released to law enforcement and prosecutors in the state.
Maine defense lawyers were routinely recorded by four county jails in the past year while having confidential conversations with clients. The majority of county jails, however, are refusing to hand over call records.
The coronavirus has caused an “unprecedented” economic downturn in Maine. Spikes in unemployment claims have broken the formulas economists use to predict what may come next. The Maine Monitor spoke with four Maine economists and one finance professor about vulnerabilities in the state economy and how it will get back on track.
The coronavirus pandemic has stripped lawyers of the surest way to privately communicate with clients: face-to-face in a private room. Reliant on recorded phone lines and video conferencing systems, these attorney and client conversations are now at risk. And one just leaked.
A single 250-bed federal medical station is all Maine has to expand its hospital capacity statewide. Used in New York following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the second-hand medical station has no medical supplies and only limited durable medical equipment, including cots and hand-washing stations, yet it will be the backbone of the next phase of Maine’s response to the virus
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