Defenseless

Investigating the Only State Without Public Defenders

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 often paid the price.

Maine Officials Propose Doubling Budget for Agency Charged With Defending the Poor

Lawyers proposed opening Maine’s first two public defender offices and a substantial pay raise for court-appointed counsel in a $35.4 million budget approved by the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services.

Maine Hires Lawyers With Criminal Records to Defend Poor Residents. The Governor Wants Reform.

Gov. Janet Mills publicly called for a bipartisan effort to reform Maine’s defense system for poor people accused of crimes in response to an investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica.

She Was Afraid of Her Lawyer. Then the Text Messages Started.

Leah Kerwin started receiving daily texts and videos explicitly requesting oral sex or intercourse. They came from her court-appointed attorney, who had already been suspended for other misconduct.

Maine Hires Lawyers With Criminal Records to Defend Its Poorest Residents

Maine is the only state in the country with no public defender system. Instead, 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.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica