The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services is an independent commission whose purpose is to provide efficient, high-quality representation to indigent citizens who are entitled to counsel at state expense under the United States Constitution or under the Constitution or statutes of Maine. The Commission uses assigned private attorneys and contract counsel to provide representation to criminal defendants, juvenile defendants, parents in child protective cases, and people facing involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital who are indigent. The Commission does not provide representation to people in other types of cases, such as divorce, eviction, foreclosure or small claims.
Maine law states that “the commission shall work to ensure the delivery of indigent legal services by qualified and competent counsel in a manner that is fair and consistent throughout the State and to ensure adequate funding of a statewide system of indigent legal services, which must be provided and managed in a fiscally responsible manner, free from undue political interference and conflicts of interest. 4 M.R.S.A. §§ 1801. (Click here to view the commission’s enabling legislation.) The Commission’s duties include:
- Implementing a system of assigned private counsel and contract counsel to provide quality and efficient indigent legal services;
- Establishing minimum experience, training and other qualifications for assigned counsel and contract counsel. (Click here to view the rule setting forth minimum qualifications that the Commission has adopted);
- Processing and authorizing payment of assigned counsel vouchers;
- Establishing standards for the delivery of indigent legal services;
- Providing training and support to attorneys to ensure the delivery of quality representation and to maintain an adequate pool of qualified attorneys;
- Reviewing requests for funds for case related expenses such as investigators and experts and authorizing payment for these services; and
- Establishing an administrative review and appeal process for attorneys who are aggrieved by a decision of the Executive Director, including but not limited to, decisions regarding payment of vouchers, assignment of cases, and awarding of contracts.
The Commission consists of nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They are Joshua Tardy, Esq., Commission Chair, the Honorable Donald Alexander, Michael Carey, Esq., Roger Katz, Esq., and Ronald Schneider, Esq. (Click here for more information about the Commissioners.) The Commission’s Executive Director is Justin Andrus, Esq.