|October 16, 2017
New Laws Effective Nov. 1, 2017
The law eliminating the current exemption for physicians, dentists and lawyers was presented as an amendment to a bill prepared on behalf of nurses in advanced practice (APRNs) who had hoped to obtain the same exemption as physicians. Instead, in a disappointing result to say the least, the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary accepted an amendment prepared by the state's Judicial branch which eliminated all the existing exemptions except for the Governor and active military personnel. MMA opposed eliminating the exemption but we ultimately lost this legislative fight during the last week of the session. We faced an uphill battle all the way as the amendment had achieved unanimous support from the Judiciary Committee. We also had little or no assistance from the other professions involved, including dentists and attorneys. The issue became quite contentious and we used up some significant political capital in opposing the amendment.
The elimination of the exemption for physicians is consistent with the trend across the country to broaden the pool of potential jurors. Fewer than five states currently have an exemption for physicians. We have been working with Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley on a communication to go to all licensed physicians preparing them for what to expect if they are called for jury duty. Deferments are certainly expected to accommodate patient needs but eventually the court will expect the physician to be available. Watch your mail for such communications once the law becomes effective on Nov. 1.< Previous Article | Next Article >
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