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Complaints About Lawyers Investigated by Commission

A commissioner with the organization that handles criminal defense for indigent clients in Maine has received two complaints from prison inmates about their lawyers that he says should potentially lead to their removal for court-appointed work.

A third complaint has also been sent directly to the commission and is also being looked into.

Two letters were sent from unspecified prisoners directly to Robert Cummins, Esq., a commissioner with the Maine Commissioner for Indigent Legal Services (MCILS). They will be passed to the executive director, John Pelletier, Esq., and will then be investigated.

The nature of the complaints was not discussed in the Commission’s meeting when they were discussed on June 3. At least one attorney has had multiple complaints.

“if these allegations are well founded at least one guy who’s been up to bat several times ought to be removed from the court appointed list,” said Mr. Cummins, who said he is reaching out the inmates concerned.

He said that whether he was a commissioner or not, he felt it was his responsibility to raise the issues as the letters raised important issues. He described them as ‘serious’ and could potentially warrant reporting to the Board of Bar Overseers. He said the claims were beyond being unable to contact the attorney.

A third attorney complaint is also being investigated that was made directly to the Commission rather than an individual commissioner. The nature of this complaint was also not addressed at the meeting.

Mr. Pelletier said in general, any concerns raised indirectly – such as by defendants to judges – are addressed with the appointed attorney to make sure they are adopting best practices.

Complaints to MCILS are public documents, but were not released. The two complaints sent directly to commissioner Cummins were regarded as complaints to the Commission. Generally, complaints are released upon request but with names redacted.


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