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The duties of the Attorney General are established by the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated, Title 5, sections 191 - 205. These statutes direct the Attorney General to discharge various responsibilities, including representing the State and its agencies in civil actions; prosecuting claims to recover money for the State; investigating and prosecuting homicides and other crimes; consulting with and advising the district attorneys; enforcing proper application of funds given to public charities in the State; and giving written opinions upon questions of law submitted by the Governor, Legislature, or state agencies. The Attorney General may appoint deputy and assistant attorneys general, all of whom serve at his or her pleasure. In addition to these statutory powers, the Attorney General is vested with certain other powers deriving from the Office's common law powers.
The primary program responsibility of the Office is to provide advice to and defend the actions of state government, and enforce Maine law. Set forth below are descriptions of the various divisions, which are organized by the nature of the services they provide, followed by discussions of specific programs of the Office of the Attorney General. The District Attorneys’ work is also addressed.
Division Profile: Janet Joyeux, Chief; 1 Law Office Manager; 1 Human Resources Manager; 1 Accountant III; 3 Research Assistants (1 assigned to accounting and 2 assigned to Information Services); 1 Receptionist.
The Administrative Services Division is responsible for budgeting, human resources, accounting, information systems and other administrative functions for the approximately 200 employees of the Maine Office of the Attorney General. The Division is also responsible for administering the payroll and benefits of the eight District Attorneys and the Assistant District Attorneys.
Child Protective Division
Division Profile: Janice S. Stuver, Chief; 20 AAGs, or 17.5 full-time equivalents; shares 12 secretaries with the Child Support and Health and Human Services Divisions; 1/2 paralegal.
The Division is based in Augusta and in three regional offices in Portland, Bangor, and Caribou.
The Child Protection Division represents the State in civil child abuse and neglect proceedings throughout Maine. In addition to litigating child protection cases in the 28 of Maine's 31 District Courts that currently handle child protection cases, the Division also represents the State in over 50 appeals of child protection decisions annually, and provides legal advice and training to the Child Welfare Division of the Office of Child and Family Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. The Child Protection Division also provides legal training to Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) caseworkers attending the Child Welfare Training Institute through the Muskie School.
Child Support Division
Division Profile: Debby Willis, Chief; 11 child support attorneys (7 full time, 1 half-time, and 3 split their time between child support and child protection, total 9 full time equivalent attorneys); 4 full time paralegals, plus 1 shared duties with the Child Protection Division; 2 paralegal/secretary hybrids. The Child Support Division shares 12 secretaries with the 2 other Health and Human Services Divisions. The Division is based in Augusta and the three regional offices in Caribou, Bangor and Portland.
The Child Support Division provides legal counsel and representation to the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery. Representation is provided in cases in which parents are in receipt of public assistance, as well as in cases in which parents are not in receipt of public assistance and receive non-welfare services from the Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery. Parents and legal guardians may seek assistance from the State in establishing and collecting child support obligations and in establishing paternity for their children. The Division also provides representation to the Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery for non-Maine residents under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. In 2009 alone, the Division received 2,670 referrals from the Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery. The average full time attorney’s case load is 177 open cases.
The Division’s work is primarily civil in nature. Division attorneys appear daily in child support cases representing the Division of Support Enforcement and Recovery before the Family Division of the Maine District Court and in Probate Court proceedings.
Health & Human Services Division
Division Profile: Doris Harnett, Chief; 12 AAGs; 2 legal secretaries.
The Health & Human Services Division represents the Department of Health and Human Services (except for child support and child protection). Division attorneys work with DHHS to properly administer public resources, develop programs and maintain compliance with established legal standards so that eligible persons can benefit from available services and programs. Responsibilities include advising and assisting agency staff regarding the enforcement of the State's mental and physical health and adult protection laws; the licensing and monitoring of facilities and homes for both adults and children; and the management of a number of State and Federal programs that provide financial benefits, rehabilitation or retraining for Maine citizens. The Division is responsible for handling litigation involving DHHS.
Division Profile: William R. Stokes, Chief; 15 AAG’s; 2 program directors; 2 victim witness advocates; 1 paralegal; 3 senior legal secretaries; 1 account clerk.
The Division is responsible for all homicide prosecutions in the State of Maine (with the exception of vehicular manslaughter cases); for providing significant support to the prosecution of drug-related crimes through six AAG’s specializing in this area; interstate extraditions; and handling appeals in criminal cases arising from the Criminal Division and as needed and as requested by the eight elected District Attorneys. The Criminal Division also advises the Bureaus within the Department of Public Safety (DPS), including the Maine Criminal Justice Academy (MCJA), Maine Emergency Medical Services (MEMS), Maine State Police (MSP), State Fire Marshal’s Office, Emergency Services Communications Bureau and the Gambling Control Board. In addition, the two AAG’s assigned to provide legal advice to the Department of Corrections have been assigned to the Criminal Division. The Financial Crimes and Civil Rights Division (which oversees the prosecution of white collar, financial crimes and frauds against the State, including Election Law violations, welfare fraud, tax evasion, computer crimes, the Healthcare Crimes Unit, and securities violations), the Victims’ Compensation Program and the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) Program are also within the Criminal Division.
Division Profile: Brian MacMaster, Chief; 6 investigators; 1 legal secretary.
The Investigation Division carries out a wide variety of both criminal and civil investigations, and serves as a resource for specialized assistance and advice for other agencies with respect to investigations. The Division carries out statutorily-required investigations of fraud against the State, and the use of deadly force by police officers. The Division is the primary investigative agency in the State for any sort of public corruption. The Division provides investigative services for other divisions of the Attorney General’s Office, several state licensing boards, and the eight District Attorneys in the State when the need arises.
Members of the Division are often called upon to provide specialized training to other members of Maine’s law enforcement community, including police chiefs and sheriffs. The Division Chief serves as the Attorney General’s liaison with the State’s law enforcement community.
Division Profile: Paul Stern, Chief; 13 AAGs; 2 research assistants; 3 senior legal secretaries.
The Litigation Division has a wide variety of responsibilities, which can be roughly divided into three parts:
- General Civil Litigation: This group is responsible when the State or its officials are sued for monetary damages under State and Federal law, and when they are sued in civil rights actions including employment related claims. This group is also generally responsible when a suit is filed challenging the constitutionality of a Maine statute or is particularly complex, and often works with attorneys in other divisions. This group also deals with quirky matters, such as boundary disputes with other states, and attempting to recover an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. It oversees civil appeals, sometimes assists with criminal appeals, and serves as a resource for litigation-related issues within the Office. This group, in addition, has expertise in issues regarding Maine’s recognized Indian Tribes.
- Tax Unit: Generally, the tax unit handles all civil litigation and appeals involving Maine Revenue Services, including bankruptcy and collection work, and provides advice to the agency. The group brings in more revenues than it costs the agency to fund them.
- General Government: This group provides legal advice and representation in administrative and judicial proceedings for the Department of Education, the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, the Bureau of Corporations, election matters within the Department of the Secretary of State, the Department of Labor, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. This group is actively engaged in matters relating to child labor laws, bankruptcy, unemployment compensation, payment of wages, state and school construction contracts, state leases, the Maine Clean Election Act, election recounts, teacher certification, special education and collections.
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
Division Profile: Dr. Margaret Greenwald, M.D. Chief Medical Examiner; Michael Ferenc, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner; 1 administrator; 1 investigator; 1 medical secretary; 1 technical secretary; 1 clerk/typist III; 1 laboratory supervisor; 1 autopsy supervisor.
The office is responsible for death investigation and certification of death whenever a specific death falls within the jurisdiction of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) as determined by The Medical Examiner Act, Title 22, Chapter 711. Investigations include extensive interactions with law enforcement officers, scene visits, review of medical records and telephone interviews with family and physicians, as well as the expected external examination, autopsy, toxicology and other laboratory tests.
Natural Resources Division
Division Profile: Jerry Reid, Chief; 8 AAGs; 1 senior legal secretary.
The Natural Resources Division provides legal services to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP), the Department of Conservation (including the Bureau of Parks and Lands, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW), the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC), the Maine Forest Service and the Maine Geological Survey), the Department of Agriculture (including the Maine Milk Commission, the Board of Pesticide Control, the Maine Potato Board and the Animal Welfare Program), the Department of Marine Resources, the Land for Maine’s Future Program, the Board of Underground Tank Installers, the Oil Fund Insurance Review Board, the Saco River Corridor Commission, the State’s Soil and Water Conservation Commissions, and the Office of Energy Independence and Security’s Interagency Review Panel, which was recently created to oversee the use of State-owned energy corridors.
Professional/Financial Regulation Division
Division Profile: Andrew Black, Chief; 9 AAGs; 2 secretaries associate legal.
The Division provides legal counsel and representation to the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (PFR), as well as the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MePERS), Maine Harness Racing Commission, Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operation, State Board of Property Tax Review, and the Liquor Licensing and Compliance Division of the Department of Public Safety.
The Division provides legal advice to all the PFR bureaus and offices.5 This includes the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation which consists of 37 professional licensing boards, commissions, and registration programs dedicated to the protection of the public through licensure, inspection, enforcement/complaint handling, and discipline of its over 100,000 active licensees. The Division attorneys, in addition to providing legal advice, actively assist in investigations, prosecute disciplinary actions before the boards, defend the decisions of the boards on appeal in court, and defend the agencies in state or federal court.
Consumer Protection Division
Division Profile: Linda Conti, Chief; 3.5 AAGs; 2 paralegals; 4 assistant complaint examiners (2 full time and 2 part-time); 1 senior legal secretary.
The Consumer Protection Division focuses on four substantive areas: 1) consumer, including enforcement of the Unfair Trade Practices Act (modeled on the Federal Trade Commission Act), the Mediation and Information Program, and the Lemon Law Arbitration Program; 2) antitrust enforcement of the Monopolies and Profiteering law (modeled on the federal Sherman Act) and of the state’s merger statute; 3) oversight of public charities; and 4) tobacco enforcement.
Programs Administered by the Office of the Attorney General
The Attorney General's Office houses within it a number of programs authorized by the Legislature. These programs, while operating on a shoestring as compared to similar programs around the country, are models of both efficiency and effectiveness.
- Juvenile Tobacco Enforcement Program
- Victim's Compensation Program
- Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program
- Civil Rights Program
- Collections Program
Tobacco Enforcement Program
Program Profile: Paul Gauvreau, Director; one legal secretary; and one secretary specialist. The Tobacco Enforcement Program is responsible for oversight of enforcement of all tobacco related statutes in Title 22 representing the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These include laws on retail tobacco sales, workplace smoking and public smoking. The Program coordinates with the Office of Substance Abuse, the Single State Agency (SSA) designated to report compliance under the Synar program to the US DHHS, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). The Program supports the DHHS contract with the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce provisions of the Tobacco Control Act as they apply to tobacco retailers. The Program advises the DHHS Health Inspection Program regarding retail tobacco sales licensing and supports the Healthy Maine Partnerships initiatives to reduce the incidence of underage use of tobacco products in Maine.
Maine Victims’ Compensation Program
Program Profile: Deborah Shaw Rice, Director; 1 Paralegal; 1 Accounting Associate. The Maine Victims’ Compensation Program assists innocent victims of violent crime by reimbursing them to a maximum of $15,000 for the out-of-pocket costs or losses they incur when they suffer physical and emotional trauma as a result of criminal victimization. The aftermath of a violent crime may leave victims and their families physically and emotionally overwhelmed, but each personal loss carries a financial loss as well. In recognition of the financial hardship crime victims often suffer, the Maine Legislature in the spring of 1992 created the Victims’ Compensation Fund and Victims’ Compensation Board. The Board is an independent board comprised of three members drawn from Maine's legal, medical and victim services communities and decides claims to be paid from the Fund.
The Victims’ Compensation Program also works closely with district attorneys, victim witness advocates, the Department of Correction, advocates from domestic violence and sexual assault response agencies, hospital staff, and other professionals to reach and assist victims of violent crime. The Program provides training to allied professionals upon request.
Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program
Program Profile: Polly Campbell, Program Director. The Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program began in 1997 to better meet the medical, psychological and emotional needs of sexual assault patients, and for timely and accurate collection of forensic evidence to assist in the prosecution of sexual assault crimes. The Program provides training and technical assistance for health care providers, primarily Registered Nurses, in the care of patients who have suffered the trauma of sexual assault, in the use of the Maine sex crimes kit for collection of evidence, and in preparation for court testimony.
Civil Rights Team Project
Program Profile: Brandon Baldwin, Schools and Curriculum Coordinator. The mission of the Civil Rights Team Project (CRTP) is to increase the safety of high school, middle school and elementary school students and to reduce the incidence of bias-motivated harassment and violence in schools. The CRTP has established civil rights teams in over 200 Maine schools and provides training and educational opportunities for students, teachers, administrators and parents throughout Maine.
Program Profile: Betsy Andrews, Director; 1 part time secretary. The Collections Program represents state agencies in District Court to collect money judgments, including restitution, fines, penalties, and costs; delinquent unemployment contributions and income tax; and MaineCare recoupments and estate recovery monies. We carry out asset searches, file liens, serve writs of execution, occasionally seize property, and collaborate with AAGs in collection matters in other courts. Agencies referring cases for collection include Agriculture, Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), DEP, DHHS, Department of Labor (DOL), Ethics Commission, IF&W, Maine Human Rights Commission (MHRC), MRS, Professional and Financial Regulation (PFR), Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Workers Compensation Board, and the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. MRS anticipates a large increase in referrals over the next few months.
The eight popularly elected district attorneys are responsible for the prosecution of the majority of criminal offenses that occur within their respective prosecutorial districts. Murder prosecutions are handled by the Criminal Division of the OAG. The district attorneys and the attorney general work together in the area of drug prosecutions -- four assistant attorneys general serve as Maine Drug Task Force attorneys physically situated in York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties, with one assistant attorney general covering both Penobscot and Hancock counties. The Maine Prosecutors’ Association meets monthly at the Augusta Office of the Attorney General, providing an opportunity for the attorney general and his staff to meet with the district attorneys and discuss issues of mutual concern. The Administrative Division of the OAG handles the payroll, benefits and other human resource matters for all the district attorneys and assistant district attorneys. Other staff in the district attorneys’ offices are county employees.
In 2010, the eight district attorneys, with the assistance of 76 assistant district attorneys handled 62,188 adult criminal cases and 3,662 juvenile prosecutions. This is an average of 844 cases per assistant district attorney, an annual case load three times the recommended maximum standard set by the American Bar Association.
The district attorneys review thousands of police reports to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to issue a criminal complaint, sponsor police training and continuing legal education to law enforcement, provide legal advice to county governments, handle the many criminal appeals that are filed every year, and serve on innumerable committees, working groups, boards and commissions.
The extraordinarily heavy work load of the district attorneys and the assistant district attorneys is managed by way of long hours and hard work. Recent funding cutbacks place even greater pressures on the district attorneys. The district attorneys will continue to work with law enforcement, the judicial branch, state and local governments to deal with the many challenges that face them and continue to pursue the goal of promoting public safety and justice for the people of Maine