Granting Subpoena Power to the Independent Commission

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

Days after the tragedy in Lewiston last October, I announced my intention to formally establish an independent commission of experts to determine the facts surrounding the shootings, including the months preceding those events and the police response to it.

So, in early November, Attorney General Aaron Frey and I announced the establishment of that commission and its members, who are seven nonpartisan experts with extensive legal, investigative, and mental health backgrounds.

In our letter to the members of that Independent Commission, Attorney General Frey and I asked them to determine the full and complete scope of their work and to request any resources and any additional investigative powers that they might need to complete that work.

In response, the Independent Commission requested they have subpoena power to obtain documents and perhaps to compel witness testimony as it conducts its work.  

That would take statutory authority. So, this week, Attorney General Frey and I introduced bipartisan emergency legislation to grant that request and to ensure that the Independent Commission has all the tools it needs to fully determine the facts of the tragedy in Lewiston.

This emergency bill, which was sponsored by all four Republican and Democratic leaders of the Legislature, would enable the Independent Commission to issue subpoenas to compel the production of documents and or the testimony of witnesses upon a majority vote of the Commission.

If an individual or an entity does not comply, the Independent Commission could ask the Maine Superior Court to compel compliance with a subpoena. Witnesses, of course, will have the right to have counsel present and other fundamental rights.

The families of the victims, and those who were injured, and the people of Maine and the nation deserve to know the complete facts and circumstances, including any failures or omissions, that led to the tragedy in Lewiston. They deserve to have those answers uncovered in an independent and nonpartisan manner.

I know that the Legislature shares that belief, and I am grateful for the support of all four legislative leaders – Democrats and Republicans – on this emergency measure to give the Independent Commission the power it needs to uncover those facts.

I hope that the full Legislature will quickly approve this measure with the support it needs to take effect immediately after I sign it into law, and the Commission can complete its work expeditiously and thoroughly.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.