Defense of the Poor
Lawyer asks to withdraw from nearly 200 indigent defense cases after state investigation
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A prominent Maine defense lawyer has asked to withdraw from nearly 200 court cases after the state’s public defense agency opened an investigation into her office.
In a copy of her petition obtained by the Maine Monitor, Amy Fairfield contends that Justin Andrus, the acting executive director of the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, launched a “targeted campaign apparently designed to harass and intimidate her in such a way. unjustified ”she and her firm while they“ tirelessly plead day after day for the rights of their clients in the courts of southern Maine ”.
Effective July 1, Fairfield, the founder and managing counsel of Fairfield & Associates in Portland, Maine, was suspended from all MCILS listings for failing to “comply with a complaints commission investigation. , billing discrepancies or other information “that” matter whether it is fit to stay on the list. According to the ruling, she could no longer receive appointments to represent indigent defendants after June 30, but she could have continued to represent her current clients until their cases were concluded.
Maine is the only state that relies entirely on private attorneys to provide legal services to indigent defendants, and according to the Maine Monitor, the Fairfield firm was its largest private provider of court-appointed attorneys during the fiscal year 2018.
Fairfield said in her court application that her company had fully cooperated with several investigations into their billing and billing practices since 2018. But in February, she received a new application from MCILS that she “found rather surprising for one. a number of reasons, not the least of which is the extent of the records demanded by the irreverent executive director.
According to his motion, Fairfield said Andrus asked him to provide him with five years of case management data for all clients represented by each attorney at the firm.
“This request to my great alarm and concern clearly unduly infringed not only the privacy of all of the firm’s clients, but encompassed the requested production of data and information of a confidential nature and protected by attorney-client privilege and lawyer work product, ”said Fairfield.
The Maine Monitor reports that state lawmakers have demanded an increased audit of payments to private attorneys who work with the MCILS and that Andrus has opened at least 21 investigations into those under contract with the agency in the past six month.
He did not provide comments to the Maine Monitor on the extent of the investigation into Fairfield and Patrick Gordon, a senior partner in his firm, who has also been suspended. He told the publication that he “is not suspending anyone here for performance related activities.”
The Fairfield and Gordon suspensions will remain in effect until they comply with the investigation.
“Because the undersigned lawyer no longer has any faith in the fact that MCILS, given its current composition, will guarantee the protection of the rights and confidences of clients, the undersigned lawyer must withdraw, because nothing less than A new lawyer will not guarantee the constitutional rights of his clients. some of southern Maine’s most vulnerable are protected, ”Fairfield said in his motion to go out of business.