Three bills cleared a major hurdle in the state House and Senate on Thursday and gained unanimous support of legislators. The reforms could change how Maine provides legal services to its poor and pays court-appointed attorneys.
The Legislature faces a vote on a $21.8 million package to overhaul the state’s criminal defense system, but Gov. Mills has yet to signal approval.
Suzanne Dwyer-Jones was charged with impaired driving on May 10. She continued to represent the state’s poorest defendants — until she was suspended Thursday.
If confirmed by the Senate, lawyers Meegan Burbank and Matthew Morgan would help oversee the system they – and scores of other attorneys – violated.
Lawmakers delay decision again on whether to add money to the next state budget for legal services for Maine’s poor.
The Judiciary Committee opposed Gov. Janet Mills’ plans to flat-fund the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services in the upcoming budget and instead is pushing for the state to greatly expand its oversight of attorneys.
Gov. Janet Mills intends to recommend people to fill three vacancies and two expired terms on the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services as early as next month.
With 120 days to make a difference, Justin Andrus has proposed top-to-bottom changes to get Maine’s struggling public defense agency back on track.
Lawyers who were ineligible to handle serious criminal charges were given thousands of these cases anyway
In the only state with no public defenders, people charged with murder and other serious crimes can get assigned attorneys who are legally ineligible to take on their cases. The state claims it was unaware.
On the same day the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services selected a new interim director, Gov. Janet Mills’ $8.4 billion budget excluded funds for public defense reforms that lawmakers say are needed.
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