In response to the Pine Tree Watch article, “Advocates investigate program charged with defense of defendants” (Sun Journal, Nov. 30), I am a private attorney who, for a portion of my cases, represents clients under independent contract (court appointment).

Among other items of note, the article points out that during initial appearances and arraignments there can sometimes be a high ratio of defendants to defense attorneys (“lawyers of the day”), and, this high ratio may result in too little time and attention paid to each individual defendant.

While some aspects of the process raise questions and concerns, more training, more supervision, or a different compensation system and worker status (state employment versus independent contract) do not magically decrease the ratio of defendants to defense attorneys. Increasing preparation and discussion time require either more attorneys doing the work, or the same number of attorneys working for a longer period of time. That carries a price tag. In fact, it carries multiple price tags: more sheriff time; more clerk time; more court marshal time; more prosecutor/prosecutor staff time; and, more judge time.

Some cost-free or low-cost improvements may be made and ought to be made, in collaboration with other actors in the system. But the extent of revisions proposed would require substantially increased funding, and not only for defense attorneys.

As a state and community, we are used to making the most of limited resources, something the courts and the attorneys currently are accomplishing.

Daniel Dube, Lewiston


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