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Gov. Mills appoints seven experts to study facts of Lewiston mass shooting


Gov. Mills appoints seven experts to study facts of Lewiston mass shooting

Nov 09, 2023 | 1:34 pm ET
By AnnMarie Hilton
Gov. Mills appoints seven experts to study facts of Lewiston mass shooting
Independent Commission to Investigate the Facts of the Tragedy in Lewiston (Courtesy of Gov. Janet Mills' office)

Gov. Janet Mills signed an executive order Thursday to create an independent commission of seven experts to investigate the facts of the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston and the months leading up to the tragedy.

Along with Attorney General Aaron Frey, Mills appointed legal, investigative and mental health experts to serve on the commission, according to a news release from the governor’s office. 

“All that we ask is that you follow the facts, wherever they may lead, and that you do so in an independent and objective manner, biased by no one and guided only by the pursuit of truth,” Mills and Frey wrote in a letter to the commission.

The commission members include:

  • Daniel Wathen, former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court
  • Debra Baeder, former chief forensic psychologist for Maine
  • George (Toby) Dilworth, former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maine and current managing director of Drummond Woodsum, a law firm 
  • Ellen Gorman, former associate justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court
  • Geoffrey Rushlau, former Maine District Court judge and former district attorney for Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties
  • Dr. Anthony Ng, psychiatrist and medical director of community services for Northern Light Acadia Hospital
  • Paula Silsby, former U.S. attorney for District of Maine

The letter from Mills and Frey, dated Nov. 8, encourages the commission to conduct its work in public, as much as possible, and asks that it prepare a report of its findings to be released to the public. 

“A cornerstone of our ability to heal as a people and as a state is to know the truth — in this case, the full and unvarnished facts of what happened on October 25th, the months that led up to it, and the law enforcement response to it,” the letter says.

However, some critics have raised issue with the commission’s formation.

Michael Rocque, a professor at Bates College who studies criminology and has done work on issues related to gun violence prevention, wrote on X: “Zero academics. Zero affected community members. @GovJanetMills commission is not what it could have been. What a lost opportunity.”

And after Mills first announced the formation of the group last week, state Rep. Adam Lee (D-Auburn) questioned how a commission could be “independent” if all members were appointed by the chief executive. He suggested the governor should submit legislation — which he said he’d “be glad to work on” — to create the commission.

Funding for the independent commission will come from the Office of the Attorney General.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include reaction to the commission.