Press Release: Maine’s Legal Aid Organizations Announce Free Civil Legal Support for Those Impacted by Lewiston Shootings
Posted on December 21, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2023
Organizations urge victims and families to seek trusted, professional legal advice
AUGUSTA - In a joint statement, Disability Rights Maine, the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project, Pine Tree Legal Assistance, and Legal Services for the Elderly announced their ongoing partnership to address the civil legal needs of those impacted by the Lewiston shootings.
“Victims, families, and our communities have been profoundly impacted by the violence and trauma of this event,” said Kim Moody, Executive Director of Disability Rights Maine. “Civil legal challenges are already emerging for those most directly impacted, and more people will need support from trusted legal professionals in the weeks and months ahead.”
Organization representatives note that information victims and their families receive is frequently conflicting or confusing, resulting in significant potential legal and financial risks or penalties.
“Victims are understandably overwhelmed, all while navigating a range of legal concerns,” said Maureen Boston, Director of Intake at Pine Tree Legal Assistance. “Our agencies are here to ensure that families receive accurate legal advice from qualified attorneys who are experts in civil legal fields - for free.”
The range of civil legal issues expected to develop related to Maine’s deadliest shooting include, but are not limited to:
- Receipt of lump sum funds impact on public benefits
- Eligibility for public benefits such as food stamps (SNAP); TANF; General Assistance
- Social Security survivor benefits
- Social Security overpayment
- MaineCare or Medicare
- Unemployment and employment questions
- Consumer issues including debt collection, utility terminations, and student loans
- Housing discrimination
- Landlord/tenant issues
- Homeownership including mortgage payment challenges
- Income tax
- Probate/Trust/Estate Issues
- Funeral expenses
- Physical and mental health medical expenses
“In a crisis, people turn to friends and family for advice. And - the reality is that in this kind of situation, civil legal expertise is necessary. These issues are case-specific and folks should really work through their questions with an attorney,” said Elizabeth Strout, Executive Director of the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project. “We’re here to answer questions and provide information on impacts they may not have considered.”
The organizations define people impacted by the Lewiston shootings as immediate family members of those who were killed, a person injured in the shooting and their immediate family, or a witness to the shootings.
“Even if you’re not sure what you’ll need help with - or if you’re not sure you qualify as an impacted person, please call any of us. There is no wrong door here,” said Jaye Martin, Executive Director of Legal Services for the Elderly. “Part of the services we provide is taking that guesswork out of the equation - and making it as easy as possible for folks to make informed decisions with advice and guidance from an attorney.”
An impacted person may call any organization listed below. During the phone call, the impacted person will talk with an organization representative who will help them identify the legal issues they need to address. The organization representative will then connect the caller with the legal aid office best suited to help them. An attorney from that office will then provide services such as advice, brief assistance, and/or direct representation depending on the nature of the needs.
The organizations also underscored their hope that people would share this information as much as possible, noting that the number of people impacted by the Lewiston shooting is significant and far-reaching. If you or someone you know needs civil legal support, please contact any of the organizations below.
Disability Rights Maine
Mon - Fri, 8am - 5pm
Legal Services for the Elderly
Mon - Fri, 9am - 12pm and 1pm - 5pm