The Maine Legislature should enact a new statute to award attorney’s fees in civil cases to poor litigants against their opponents. Under the proposed statute the opponent must be a corporation or other legal entity and the poor litigant must be the prevailing party in the case. The statute proposed is needed because multiple studies show that there has been an unrelenting decline during the last four decades of the poor’s access to justice. Their numbers increase and the support of the federal government declines. For those who find themselves in legal positions opposing the poor, there is little deterrent to a decision to violate the legal rights of the poor. While some people who are without attorneys seek the help of the courts pro se, the barriers of pro se procedure are insurmountable. Pro se representation is helpful only to the extent that a person is well educated and can devote significant resources to study, writing, and oral advocacy of legal questions. A state must provide some effective means of assuring equal access to its courts and tribunals.
Donald F. Fontaine,
Fee Shifting: A Proposal to Solve Maine’s Intractable Access to Justice Problem,
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol72/iss1/3