Our View: Civil legal aid is falling short, hurting all of us

Our View: Civil legal aid is falling short, hurting all of us

LEGAL
Too many Maine residents aren't able to get the legal representation they need. No, we're not talking about those charged with crimes — though we absolutely could be. Instead, we're talking about people who need civil legal aid to help them entangle a variety of messy problems with the potential to upset their lives. Legislators are struggling to fix an indigent criminal defense program that they've been allowed to fall apart. Filling the gaps in aid for civil complaints, however, is much easier. A bill before the Legislature is asking for $11.2 million over the next two years to be distributed through the Civil Legal Defense Fund, which supports the work of providers of civil legal services in Maine. Unlike the criminal side, there is no constitutional right to representation…
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Justice Department Braces for Rise in Violent Crime

LAW
Yet the federal government, for all its vast investigative powers, plays a supporting role when it comes to fighting street crime. The Justice Department prosecutes major drug and weapons trafficking cases, provides technical support on gun tracing and the analysis of other evidence, and distributes billions in grants to supplement the budgets of local departments that are mainly paid for by area taxpayers.Over the past year, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has announced a series of steps intended to bolster efforts to counter rising crime rates. It comes at a time when the administration as a whole is anxious about the dire political implications of the perception that it is letting the situation spiral out of control.They include the creation of five “strike forces” that work with local law enforcement…
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