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Interim Head Of Criminal Defense Commission Gets Permanent Role As Director

Justin Andrus

The head of a Maine agency that oversees constitutionally-mandated defense for poor people accused of crimes has been offered the role on a permanent basis.

Justin Andrus, Esq. has been interim executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS) since January. at a commission meeting on Tuesday July 27, it was announced he will remain in the role and the search for a replacement is over.

He replaced John Pelletier, who had been executive director of MCILS since it was formed in 2009. He resigned in December after enduring months of merciless press coverage.

Mr Andrus came to the role with the same problems encountered by his predecessor - inadequate funding by the State of Maine to do its work, low pay for private counsel, fleeing attorneys who were refusing court-appointing cases, and reluctance by lawmakers to fund the system. He voiced his frustrations in an interview with the Portland Press Herald.

In the closing days of the last legislative session, additional funding was approved and attorneys who do the work were given a rate increase.

Mr. Andrus was born and grew up in New Jersey, then attended high school in New Hampshire. He attended and graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1997. In 2002, Justin graduated from the University of Maine's School of Law in Portland, Maine.

For nearly two decades he practiced criminal law serving indigent clients before taking a role at the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar.

He was then appointed interim executive director of MCILS while the search for a permanent replacement started. He will continue on an interim basis, but has accepted an offer from commissioners to make the role permanent shortly.


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