Sen. Carney reaffirms commitment to sixth amendment rights
AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, a settlement reached between the ACLU of Maine and the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS) in a class-action lawsuit failed to gain approval by the court.
In response, Sen. Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, who chairs the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary, issued the following statement reaffirming her commitment to the rights of Mainers:
“All Mainers deserve equal access to justice, and it’s vitally important that Maine protect the Sixth Amendment right of defendants to have an attorney if they cannot afford one on their own. Maine has a constitutional and moral duty to meet this standard. MCILS and ACLU’s proposed settlement shows good-faith cooperation. While the court case remains open, I want to be clear that our work on this issue is ongoing.
“In the Legislature, we will continue our work to build a public defender program in Maine. So far, we have successfully established the Rural Defender Unit and funded the first Public Defender Office, which will be led by a District Defender and have six attorneys providing essential legal services and protecting defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights. We also have made statutory changes and approved rules to ensure these individuals are represented by attorneys who are trained, qualified and supervised to provide appropriate defense in the cases they handle. We remain committed to ensuring Mainers have the legal representation they deserve and are constitutionally entitled to.”