A three-month investigation by Pine Tree Watch staff reporter Samantha Hogan uncovered that inaccurate billing is rampant in Maine’s public defense system. Maine is the only state that does not have a public defender office. It instead relies on a unique system of contracted private attorneys who represent the state’s poor in court. Hogan’s reporting found that defense attorneys’ invoices were frequently incorrect, resulting in them often being overpaid for representing Maine’s poor — so much so that when a new alert system went live in June 2019, it sent out more than 800 notifications within a four-month period flagging hundreds of days when attorneys billed for unexplained high hours. The commission’s director admitted to uncovering similar billing inaccuracies on a daily basis during the prior nine years, but he did not change how attorney payments are approved.