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.
Crime and Justice
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.
Legislative committee passes bill helping convicted people introduce new evidence, but arguments persist on both sides
The bill, which heads to the full legislature, would eliminate a time limit for prisoners to present new evidence, but some say that would burden courts and mean cases never would be final.
Five key findings from The Maine Monitor’s months-long investigation into the state’s county court system.
While Maine continues to grapple with reforms to its criminal justice system, other states have moved forward with measures designed to end or relax mandatory minimum sentences, restrict the use of solitary confinement and reform the bail code.
Advocates say the Democratic-led legislature has created an unparalleled appetite for change in Maine’s criminal justice system, but a partisan standoff over returning to session amid the coronavirus pandemic may delay reforms for months.
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.
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