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Governor Mills and Attorney General Frey Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Grant Subpoena Power to Independent Commission

MAINE, January 24 - Back to current news.

January 24, 2024

Bipartisan bill is sponsored by both Democratic and Republican leaders in the Legislature

Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Frey announced today that they have introduced bipartisan emergency legislation to grant the power of subpoena to the Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston.

The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senate President Troy Jackson, Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, Senate Minority Leader Trey Stewart, and House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham, would authorize the Independent Commission to obtain documents and compel witness testimony as it conducts its work to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the October 25, 2023 shootings in Lewiston.

In establishing the Independent Commission, Governor Mills and Attorney General Frey pledged that they would do everything possible to ensure the body had the resources and powers necessary to fully discharge its responsibilities. In November, the Independent Commission formally requested assistance to obtain subpoena power from the Legislature. 

"This legislation, which comes at the request of the Independent Commission, will ensure that the Commission has the tools it needs to fully and effectively discharge its critical mission of determining the facts of the tragedy in Lewiston," said Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey. "We know that the Legislature shares the goal of understanding the facts in an independent, nonpartisan manner, are grateful for the bipartisan support of the four legislative leaders, and hope the Legislature will quickly approve the measure."

The emergency legislation would enable the Independent Commission to issue subpoenas to compel the production of documents and the testimony of witnesses with a majority vote of the body. In the event that an individual or entity does not comply, the Independent Commission would be permitted to apply to the Maine Superior Court to seek to compel compliance in any state, federal or military court or tribunal.

Days after the tragedy in Lewiston, Governor Mills announced her intent to formally establish an independent commission of experts to determine the facts surrounding the shootings, including the months preceding the events and the police response to it. On November 9, the Governor and Attorney General announced the establishment of a commission of seven experts with extensive legal, investigative, and mental health backgrounds.

A copy of the legislation, An Act to Ensure the Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston Has Necessary Authority to Discharge its Factfinding Mission, can be found here. As an emergency measure, the legislation would take effect immediately upon signing should it garner 2/3 support from both the Maine House and Senate.