Sen. Carney bill to improve access to justice signed into law

Posted: April 16, 2024 | Senator Carney

AUGUSTA ­­— On Tuesday, April 16, Gov. Janet Mills signed LD 2219, “An Act to Implement the Recommendations Regarding the Maine Commission on Public Defense Services” into law. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Anne Carney D-Cape Elizabeth, is meant to bring the state of Maine up to date regarding Mainers’ right to legal representation and general accessibility to public defenders.

“This legislation is long overdue,” said Sen. Carney. “It is stated clearly in our U.S. Constitution that individuals being accused of a crime will have access to legal representation. In Maine, we have not had that. This law will remedy this through ensuring the delivery of indigent legal services by qualified and competent counsel that is fair and consistent throughout the State.”

There are many factors involved in determining if an individual qualifies for, or is able to, make regular payments to representation and what those legal service costs are. There will also be standards legal counsel will need to adhere to, including protecting the case load for individual public defenders, conflicts of interest, and state-funded training opportunities to provide further representation in criminal, juvenile, child protective, involuntary commitment and other types of proceedings where those on trial may be eligible for receiving indigent legal services.

The bill was signed into law on April 16, 2024. The law will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.