The ACLU of Maine Foundation (ACLU) receives hundreds of requests for assistance each year, but because of limited resources only a small percentage actually become ACLU cases. We are unable to take many cases, even those concerning real injustices. If your complaint is not pursued by our office, it does not mean it is without merit.
In order to request assistance, you must fill out an intake form.
Mail it to: ACLU of Maine Foundation 121 Middle Street, Suite 301 Portland, Maine 04101
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Please review this important information before filing a request. Even if your complaint falls within these guidelines, filing a complaint does not guarantee that the ACLU will provide legal assistance.
Before accepting a case, the ACLU considers the following:
1. Does the case raise a civil liberties or civil rights issue?
Civil liberties include freedom of speech, press, religion, and association; due process; equal protection; and privacy. Civil rights include, for example, voting rights; discrimination based on disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or national origin; and police reform. Because of the nature of civil liberties claims, the ACLU only rarely takes a case that does not involve the government.
2. How likely is it that a court will reach the civil liberties issue?
Generally, the ACLU takes cases that do not involve complicated disputes of fact, and prefers cases that involve questions of law only. An example of a factual dispute is an employment discrimination case in which the employer claims he fired the employee because of poor job performance and has credible evidence to support that claim, but the employee disputes the evidence and has credible evidence of her own. Because employment claims are usually very fact dependent, it is not often that the ACLU takes this kind of case.
We often decide not to accept cases involving factual disputes because: (1) if a court resolves the facts against the client, it may never reach the civil liberties or civil rights issues; (2) if the decision rests upon the specific facts of a case, the case is less likely to have broad impact on many people; and (3) we have so few volunteer and staff attorneys that it is difficult for us to devote attorney time to resolving factual disputes.
3. The potential impact, including:
Will the case set a civil liberties precedent?
Will the case strengthen an existing but ignored precedent?
What are the prospects of success and the risks of losing?
How likely is the issue to recur?
What educational opportunities does the case present?
4. The allocation of resources, including:
What costs and administrative burdens will the case impose in relation to available ACLU staff and funds?
Are volunteer attorneys available?
The ACLU does not generally accept this kind of case:
A person has been fired from a job without a good reason or just cause;
A person is being denied benefits, such as workers' compensation, unemployment benefits, or Social Security;
Landlord / tenant disputes;
Immigration matters; and,
Criminal cases or complaints about a person's attorney in a criminal case -- the ACLU considers accepting criminal cases only in limited instances, such as, for example, when a person is being prosecuted for engaging in activity protected by the Constitution - such as participating in a political demonstration or where the statute or ordinance under which the person is charged is subject to constitutional attack.
Please expect to wait up 60 days before receiving a response.