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At a Glance (as of 2013)

Percentage of state funding: 100%
Percentage of local funding: 0%
Percentage of alternative funding: 0%
State commission: yes
Branch of government: judicial



The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services (MCILS) is an independent five-member commission in the judicial branch that is statutorily charged with providing “efficient, high-quality representation to indigent criminal defendants, juvenile defendants and children and parents in child protective cases, consistent with federal and state constitutional and statutory obligations.” The Governor appoints all five members, though his appointments are subject to review by a joint legislative committee on judicial matters. One of the members must be appointed from a list of qualified nominees submitted by the President of the Senate, one from a list submitted by the Speaker of the House, and one from the Chief Justice.


MCILS oversees a statewide assigned counsel system that pays attorneys on an hourly basis. By statute, MCILS is responsible for administering an indigent defense system of “qualified and competent counsel in a manner that is fair and consistent throughout the State,” and in a manner that is “free from undue political interference and conflicts of interest.” Despite this mandate, MCILS has consistently been underfunded since its inception.

Statutory Authority

37 M.R.S.A. § 1801 through 1806

Source of data: original research conducted by Sixth Amendment Center staff.