Now that LD 1433, a proposed bill to create an Office of Public Defenders in Maine, is dead, where is the state of Maine with regard to defending those who are too poor to afford an attorney? LD 1433 was a deeply flawed bill, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a large problem to overcome.
In today’s video founding Partner Merritt Heminway talks about the current state of affairs.
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In the third part of our series on the proposed LD 1433, a bill to create an Office of Public Defender in Maine, Merritt Heminway discusses how a fully funded public defender would save Maine money in the long run. With the cost of incarceration so high, and the cumulative effects of a criminal record on a citizen, Maine would be better off making sure that the poor get just as good a defense as those who can afford their own lawyers. The short term costs of an Office of Public Defender just don’t compare to the long term costs of longer jail times and harsher punishments.
We’d love to hear your comments about Governor LePage’s proposal, please let us know what you think in the comments.
With the Governor’s proposal of LD 1433, more and more attention is being paid to the possibility of creating an Office of Pubic Defender here in Maine. H&H Law Center attorney Devens Hamlen worked in the New Hampshire office of public defender for more than eight years, and has this to say about benefits of New Hampshire’s system.
To see another blog post about LD 1433, check out: LD 1433 in Maine: How Did We Get Here?
Maine is the only state in the union that doesn’t have an Office of Pubic Defender to defend the poor. But, since 1963 and the landmark case of Gideon versus Wainwright, every jurisdiction in the country has had the obligation to provide a lawyer to anyone who can not afford to hire one. Maine has so far met its legal obligation by hiring private attorneys to defend the poor.
Maine Office of Public Defender and LD 1433: A History
Now Maine is considering LD 1433, an Act to create an Office of the Public Defender. In this video Merritt Heminway explains how we got to this point, and what it means for the city of Portland and the State of Maine.