Commission Executive Director Anne Jordan, left, and investigator Brian MacMaster, right, listen as Detective Richard St. Amant of the Lisbon Police Department fields their questions on Feb. 8 during the fourth public meeting of the panel investigating the facts of the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston. The meeting was held at the University of Maine in Augusta. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday signed a bill granting the commission investigating the Lewiston mass shooting the power to issue subpoenas, but it wasn’t clear if the commission plans to immediately use the new law or what witnesses or documents it might subpoena.

The legislation, introduced by the governor and Attorney General Aaron Frey last month, authorizes the commission to obtain documents and compel witness testimony as it tries to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the Oct. 25 mass shooting in which 18 people died and 13 were injured at two locations.

It comes after the commission’s executive director told lawmakers last month that subpoena power is actively needed to ensure the commission is able to gather all the information it needs.

The commission has not announced any immediate plans to issue subpoenas, and Kevin Kelley, a spokesperson for the panel, did not say if subpoenas might be forthcoming in response to questions Tuesday.

“Commission members have always said that they hope and expect people will cooperate with this independent investigation and having the power to subpoena should only be necessary in circumstances where the investigation could be delayed or impeded without it,” Kelley said in an email.

At the end of January, Commission Executive Director Anne Jordan told lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee that since its formation in November, the commission already had run into situations where people have refused to appear or have not been willing to produce records.


“We have been attempting to work and are in correspondence with the U.S. Army and others but we have run into, I don’t want to say permanent roadblocks, but we have run into some issues and this subpoena power will allow us to get to the bottom of what happened,” she said at the time, noting that the subpoena power is “actively needed.”

Robert Card Jr., the gunman in the shooting, was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and spent two weeks at a psychiatric hospital in New York last August while on an Army Reserve training trip.

Jordan would not elaborate about the issues with the Army or who might be the target of subpoenas.

Kelley said Tuesday that the Army has agreed to make people available for the commission’s March 7 meeting, but he did not yet know who from the Army would be testifying.

It was unclear Tuesday if anything specific prompted the Army to commit this week to having personnel testify, although a statement suggested it had been working with the commission to fulfill its requests.

“The Army continues to work with the state of Maine and is committed to addressing their requests for information,” Lt. Col. Ruth Castro, an Army spokesperson, said in a statement.


She said the Army also is conducting its own administrative investigation, as well as a separate U.S. Army-directed Inspector General investigation into Card and his Army Reserve unit’s actions preceding the mass shooting.

In addition to the series of public meetings the commission has been holding to gather testimony from police, family members of victims and others connected to the shooting, it also has been meeting in private.

Kelley would not say Tuesday how many private meetings the commission has had or whom they have met with.

“When the governor and attorney general established the independent commission, they asked that it be as public as possible while being sensitive to privacy concerns, if that does not hinder its fact-finding mission,” he said. “That is a responsibility that commission members take seriously, which is why, as the investigation remains ongoing, we will not comment on meetings that commission members feel are best conducted privately.”

Last month, Jordan told lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee that people representing the victims who died in the shooting were invited to testify or offer written statements either in public or private, and that while some did testify publicly, others provided statements that they asked to be kept confidential.

“It’s not our place to compel them to come in and testify to something that is so incredibly painful,” Jordan said at the time. “We won’t do it. We simply won’t do it.”


The legislation signed by the governor Tuesday says any testimony of witnesses who are subpoenaed must be gathered in public session unless the witness requests or the commission votes to take it in executive session.

The subpoenas themselves would be civil – as opposed to criminal – so they generally would not require court proceedings unless a dispute arises between the commission and the person or body being subpoenaed.

Lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee added an amendment to the governor’s original legislation prior to its approval that any subpoenas issued by the commission shall be detailed in its final report.

The House and Senate gave initial unanimous approval to the legislation last week, and took final procedural votes confirming their support Tuesday. It took effect immediately upon being signed by the governor.

“With my signature, the bill is now law, and the independent commission now has the power of subpoena,” Mills said in a statement. “I thank the Legislature for working with the attorney general and me to deliver the independent commission the authority it needs to conduct a thorough examination of the facts surrounding the tragedy in Lewiston.”

The seven-member commission, appointed by Mills and Frey, is tasked with investigating the facts leading up to and in the aftermath of the shooting by Card.

The commission heard last week from members of the Lewiston and Lisbon police departments and is scheduled to meet Thursday to hear from the Maine State Police.

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