No one is assigned to keep Maine’s attorney general honest.

In 2006, accusations of crimes by the attorney general’s prosecutors were aired. They included concealing evidence, destroying evidence and using perjured police testimony in a murder trial. The accusations were supported by official reports found in the attorney general’s “confidential file,” kept secret until the Legislature ordered the attorney general to make it available to the public under the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

The attorney general handpicked three private lawyers to “investigate” those allegations.

Those lawyers issued an opinion that none of the accusations against the attorney general’s people had “any substantial merit.” Then they fought all the way to Maine’s Supreme Court to avoid having to show any evidence supporting that opinion, and won.

Why did the attorney general ask that panel of private lawyers to investigate?

Because, the court wrote:

“Before creating the panel, the Attorney General’s office [Attorney General Steven Rowe and Deputy Attorney General Linda Pistner, according to Pistner’s affidavit] discussed whether there was any effective way to conduct an independent review within the state government of the alleged misconduct in the [Dennis] Dechaine case and eventually concluded there was not.”

It’s interesting that only one Maine prosecutor has ever been “penalized” for misconduct, according to the Portland Press Herald on July 19, 2013, “Prosecutor suspended from practice for 30 days.” The prosecutor, who concealed evidence in a rape case, was suspended, with the condition that her suspension would be lifted after she received training in professional ethics.

James P. Moore


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