Defenseless An investigation into how Maine represents its poorest defendants
The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found that more than a quarter of Maine attorneys disciplined in the past decade for serious professional misconduct were hired as lawyers for the poor. Sex crimes and felony convictions were among the most severe infractions overlooked in the only state without public defenders. Defendants paid the price.
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.
Justice Michaela Murphy’s ruling means as many as 7,200 plaintiffs could join action against state public defense commission.
Maine’s public defense agency reports only 224 attorneys are accepting assignments to new criminal and child protection cases from courts.
The ACLU of Maine lawsuit contends the state’s unique public defense system is failing indigent defendants.
Director warns of “imminent” crisis in being able to find lawyers for all people needing public defense.
Maine Republicans and Democrats discuss splitting $1.2 million price tag to hire five public defenders.
Suzanne Dwyer-Jones routinely defends indigent clients in court. The agency overseeing representation of the poor plans to suspend her.
Bob Cummins gives up his seat on the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, contending state officials ‘don’t give a damn’ about reform.
Committee proposes a dispatchable unit of defense lawyers to work on cases in underserved rural courts.
Frustrated by a lack of progress, ‘last resort’ lawsuit alleges a state commission violates defendants’ constitutional rights.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued the ruling against Christopher Whalley on Feb. 17.