A recent newspaper article reported that the office of the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties would no longer accept cash for the payment of fines and other costs ordered by the court. This leads me to question whether or not there are any actual attorneys in the DA’s office and, if so, where they got their legal education.

According federal code, all coins and currency of the United States (including federal reserve notes, which are technically not U.S. currency at all) must be accepted as the discharge for “all debts, public and private” within the United States.

A merchant, a government office or anyone else can refuse to accept these offered payments in cash, but should they do so, under federal law, their refusal to accept the cash discharges the debtor from further responsibility for the debt.

(It works the same way, by the way, for gas stations and convenience stores that post those “No bills larger than a twenty accepted” signs. They can have that policy if they want, but if they refuse to accept a $50 bill in payment, they can kiss their theft of services charges goodbye.)

If Maeghan Maloney wants to order her office to refuse to accept American currency for payment of these most public of debts, she puts the taxpayers of Kennebec and Somerset counties on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars of legally discharged debts.

I suggest Maloney go back to night law school and take a refresher course. Or she could simply open her purse, pull out any piece of currency and take a gander at those words printed prominently in the upper lefthand corner of every bill: This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.

Charles Jacques, Winthrop

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