Lawmakers returning to Augusta this month may recommend enacting a bill to open the state’s first trial-level public defender office.
State officials filed a civil lawsuit against Fairfield & Associates and managing attorney Amy Fairfield for bad billing practices.
Hard-fought reforms to Maine’s public defense system were enacted on July 15 without the signature of Gov. Janet Mills.
In a scathing court motion, Amy Fairfield accused the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services of launching a “targeted campaign” against her law firm.
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.
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