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Creation Date

3-17-2016

Description

The State of Maine currently uses a system of private assigned counsel to provide high quality indigent legal services, with oversight and guidance from the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services. The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides for the right to counsel for criminal defendants, regardless of a defendant’s ability to pay. In 2002, the American Bar Association established ten black letter principles, Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System, that every jurisdiction should follow to ensure quality and efficient representation for indigent clients. However, nationwide research conducted by the NLADA and the Sixth Amendment Center identified three ABA Principles most often overlooked by indigent legal services systems, Principle One (maintaining an independent system of representation), Principle Eight (ensuring parity of resources between defense counsel and the prosecution), and Principle Ten (providing continuous attorney supervision to monitor quality and efficient representation). Due to limited staff and resources, Maine’s system is not compliant with respect to providing continuous, systematic supervision and monitoring of attorneys’ performance. See 37 M.R.S. § 1804 (2)(D) (2009) (stating the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services’ responsibilities and standards) and ABA Principle Ten. The purpose of this Report is to recommend a method for evaluating attorney performance to bring Maine into compliance with the statutory requirements and the ABA’s Principles. Establishing statewide consistent supervision of attorneys’ performance ensures high quality, independent indigent legal services and provides parity of resources between the indigent criminal defense bar and the prosecution.

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