An Act To Create the Office of the Public Defender and Amend the Duties of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services
Sec. 1. 2 MRSA §6, sub-§12, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 419, §1, is repealed.
Sec. 2. 4 MRSA §1801, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 419, §2, is amended to read:
§ 1801. Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services; established
The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, established by Title 5, section 12004-G, subsection 25-A, is an independent commission whose purpose is to provide oversight of the Office of the Public Defender, ensuring efficient, high-quality representation to indigent criminal defendants, juvenile defendants and children and parents in child protective cases, consistent with federal and state constitutional and statutory obligations. The commission shall work to ensure oversee 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 while working with the Chief Public Defender to provide adequate funding of for 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.
Sec. 3. 4 MRSA §1802, as amended by PL 2013, c. 159, §10, is further amended to read:
§ 1802. Definitions
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
"Indigent legal services" does not include the services of a guardian ad litem appointed pursuant to Title 22, section 4105, subsection 1.
Sec. 4. 4 MRSA §1803, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 419, §2, is amended to read:
§ 1803. Commission structure
In determining the appointments and recommendations under this subsection, the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court shall consider input from persons and organizations with an interest in the delivery of indigent legal services.
The Chief Public Defender, or the Chief Public Defender's designee, is an ex officio, nonvoting member of the commission and may participate in all meetings of the commission.
An attorney appointed to the commission must have expertise in providing legal defense and the skills and knowledge required to ensure that quality representation is provided in each area of relevant law. No more than 6 members may be attorneys engaged in the active practice of law, and during an attorney's term on the commission the attorney may not serve as contract counsel or retained counsel.
A member of the commission appointed to fill a vacancy occurring otherwise than by expiration of term is appointed only for the unexpired term of the member succeeded.
Sec. 5. 4 MRSA §1804, as amended by PL 2017, c. 284, Pt. UUUU, §§1 to 7, is repealed.
Sec. 6. 4 MRSA §1804-A is enacted to read:
§ 1804-A. Commission duties and responsibilities
Sec. 7. 4 MRSA §1805, as amended by PL 2017, c. 284, Pt. UUUU, §§8 to 13, is repealed.
Sec. 8. 4 MRSA §1805-A, as enacted by PL 2017, c. 284, Pt. UUUU, §14, is repealed.
Sec. 9. 4 MRSA §1806, sub-§1, ¶D, as enacted by PL 2011, c. 547, §1, is amended to read:
(1) The court in which a case is brought;
(2) Any criminal charges or juvenile crime charges and the type, but not the contents, of any petition giving rise to a case;
(3) The docket number;
(4) The identity of assigned contract counsel and the date of assignment;
(5) The withdrawal of assigned contract counsel and the date of withdrawal; and
(6) Any order for reimbursement of assigned contract counsel fees.
Sec. 10. 4 MRSA §1806, sub-§2, ¶E, as enacted by PL 2011, c. 260, §1, is amended to read:
Sec. 11. 4 MRSA §1806, sub-§3, as enacted by PL 2011, c. 547, §2, is amended to read:
This information remains confidential in the possession of the commission and is not open to public inspection, except that the names of criminal defendants and the names of juvenile defendants charged with offenses that if committed by an adult would constitute murder or a Class A, Class B or Class C crime are not confidential.
Sec. 12. 4 MRSA §§1807 and 1808 are enacted to read:
§ 1807. Office of the Public Defender established; appointment and duties
The salary of the Deputy Public Defenders is within salary range 36.
(1) The compensation of staff of the Office of the Public Defender is fixed by the Chief Public Defender but may not in the aggregate exceed the amount appropriated for those positions and may not result in an increased request to future Legislatures.
(2) Staff counsel are employees of this State as defined in Title 5, section 20, subsection 1.
(3) Professional staff of the Chief Public Defender are not subject to the Civil Service Law.
(1) Is admitted to the practice of law in the State;
(2) Is registered with the Board of Overseers of the Bar as an active practitioner; and
(3) Has not been and is not disbarred or suspended from practice pursuant to chapter 17, subchapter 2 or Maine Bar Rule 13 or its successor.
(1) Appear as counsel in any civil or criminal case or controversy before the Supreme Judicial Court, Superior Courts or District Courts of the State or comparable courts in any other state or before a United States District Court or at any administrative hearing held by any state or federal agency other than in the capacity of Chief Public Defender, Deputy Public Defender or staff counsel; or
(2) Engage in the private practice of law or be a partner or associate of any person engaged in the private practice of law or be a member or employee of a professional association engaged in the private practice of law.
(1) A proposed biennial budget for the provision of indigent legal services, including supplemental budget requests as necessary;
(2) An annual report containing pertinent data on the operation, needs and costs of the indigent legal services system and the status of information sharing as required under paragraph H, including issues preventing the agreements from being implemented;
(3) Each month a report on case loads and the gross monthly total of bills approved for payment, including payments to contract counsel and retained counsel and for contracted professional services; a summary of professional service requests denied and granted by the office in accordance with section 1806, subsection 2, paragraph E; and information on complaints made against counsel providing indigent legal services; and
(4) Any other information as the commission may require;
§ 1808. Indigency determinations; redeterminations; verifications; collections
The application fee may be waived by the court. A defendant or civil party may pay the fee in a lump sum or in installments. Full payment must be made to the court prior to the conclusion of the proceedings, unless otherwise ordered by the court.
Sec. 13. 5 MRSA §931, sub-§1, ¶L-3, as amended by PL 2003, c. 646, §1, is further amended to read:
Sec. 14. 5 MRSA §931, sub-§1, ¶M, as amended by PL 1987, c. 9, §2, is further amended to read:
Sec. 15. 5 MRSA §931, sub-§1, ¶N is enacted to read:
Sec. 16. 5 MRSA §959, as enacted by PL 2009, c. 419, §3, is repealed.
Sec. 17. 36 MRSA §191, sub-§2, ¶DDD, as enacted by PL 2017, c. 284, Pt. UUUU, §16, is amended to read:
Sec. 18. Maine Revised Statutes headnote amended; revision clause. In the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 4, chapter 37, in the chapter headnote, the words "Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services" are amended to read "Office of the Public Defender and Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services" and the Revisor of Statutes shall implement this revision when updating, publishing or republishing the statutes.
This bill establishes a statewide public defender system. The purposes of this bill are to:
1. Provide effective assistance of counsel to indigent criminal defendants, juvenile defendants and children and parents in child protective cases in courts of this State;
2. Ensure that the system is free from undue political interference and conflicts of interest;
3. Provide for the delivery of public defender services by qualified and quality counsel in a manner that is fair and consistent throughout the State;
4. Establish a system that uses state employees, contracted services and other methods of providing services in a manner that is responsive to and respectful of regional and community needs and interests;
5. Ensure that adequate public funding of the statewide public defender system is provided and the system is managed in a fiscally responsible manner;
6. Ensure that a person using the services of a statewide public defender system pay reasonable costs for services provided by the system based on the person's financial ability to pay;
7. Increase the size of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services from 5 to 9 members and change the responsibilities of the commission; and
8. Establish the Chief Public Defender as the person who makes indigency determinations.