Defenseless: An investigation into how Maine represents its poorest defendants

ABOUT THIS SERIES

An investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found that more than a quarter of Maine attorneys disciplined in the past decade for serious professional misconduct were hired as lawyers for the poor. Sex crimes and felony convictions were among the most severe infractions overlooked in the only state without public defenders. Defendants paid the price.

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An illustration of John Pelletier, the executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services

A low bar for public defense

Maine is the only state in the country with no public defender system. A nine-month investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found that legal services for the poor are left to private attorneys, who face disproportionately high amounts of discipline and an office that doesn’t supervise them.

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