Maine’s indigent legal commission running out of money

Posted Jan. 28, 2011, at 6:28 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The state commission charged with paying for the criminal defense of poor Mainers says it’s running out of money.

The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services says it will run out of funds in May. Portland lawyer Robert Ruffner told legislators this week that the state could face a lawsuit if it doesn’t meet the constitutional requirement to pay for indigent defense.

According to Maine Public Broadcasting Network, the agency says it needs an additional $400,000 in appropriations, while Gov. Paul LePage is proposing a $98,000 cut.

The commission was established by the Legislature in 2009 and took over indigent defense payments last July from the judicial branch. Officials say the commission has been underfunded from the start.

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