Larger state investment in civil legal aid is needed
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Larger state investment in civil legal aid is needed

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Maine’s chronic shortage of attorneys for low-income criminal defendants has rightly gotten a lot of attention. The US and state constitutions guarantee those accused of crimes a right to a speedy trial, a pledge that Maine is in danger of not fulfilling as the state’s program struggles to recruit and retain lawyers.

Maine also faces a critical shortage of lawyers to represent low-income Mainers in civil cases, such as those involving evictions, protection from abuse and discrimination.

In Maine, there are more than 360,000 low-income people who are eligible for free legal services, and most of them will face at least one civil legal issue during their lives. But, too few will get the representation they need and deserve. This puts their wellbeing at risk and it adds to the backlogs in our court system.

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