The Independent Commission Now Has Authority to Issue Subpoenas

This week, I signed bipartisan legislation to ensure that the Independent Commission examining the Lewiston tragedy has the authority it needs to conduct a thorough investigation.

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

Days after the tragedy in Lewiston last fall, I announced my intention to formally establish an independent commission of experts to determine the facts surrounding the October 25th shootings, including the months preceding those events and the police response to them.    

In November, I issued an executive order establishing that commission. To serve on that body, Attorney General Frey and I appointed seven nonpartisan experts with extensive legal, investigative, and mental health backgrounds. The Commission is chaired by Dan Wathen, a well-respected former Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court.  

In our appointment letter to the Members of the Independent Commission, Attorney General Frey and I asked the appointees only to follow the facts, wherever they may lead, in an independent and objective manner, biased by no one and guided only by the pursuit of truth.  

In that letter, Attorney General Frey and I told Commission members that our offices stood ready to help should they determine a need for additional investigative powers or resources to complete their work.  

At their first meeting, the Independent Commission formally requested subpoena power in order to obtain any documents and perhaps to compel witness testimony if needed as it conducts its work.    

Subpoena power requires statutory authority, so last month, Attorney General Frey and I introduced legislation to grant subpoena power to the Independent Commission.  

Well, I’m pleased to say that this week, the Legislature unanimously passed our legislation, and minutes after the bill was finalized, I signed it into law.

That legislation – to become an emergency measure – needed two thirds support from each body, each chamber of the Legislature. And it got that two thirds support. And so, the law took effect immediately upon my signature.  

The Independent Commission now has the power to issue subpoenas if needed.  

I want to thank the Legislature for their partnership on getting this important task done – especially the sponsors of the bill, who were very bipartisan: Senate President Troy Jackson, Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, and House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham.  

Now the Independent Commission has an additional and powerful tool as they continue their work to determine the complete facts and circumstances surrounding the tragedy in Lewiston last October. The families of the victims, and those who were injured, and the people of the Maine and the nation deserve no less.  

To learn more about the Independent Commission and its work, you can visit their website at That’s

This is Governor Janet Mills, and thank you for listening.