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Monday, March 03, 2014

Maryland Case Could Set National Precedent On Bail

In Maryland each year, thousands of defendants appear before court commissioners - not judges - who set their bail without an attorney present.

The state's court system has drawn criticism from legislators, judges and advocates for the poor, nonviolent offenders. They say every defendant has the right to an attorney, even at the earliest stages of their case. Lawmakers are considering an overhaul of the system, and the state's highest court is set to hear arguments on the issue thise week..

Legal experts say the Maryland case could provide a blueprint on how to litigate for change in other states where legal counsel is not guaranteed during bail hearings.

Having a defense attorney at a bail hearing is crucial.


Anonymous said...

There will be inequities, of course.

Sounds like a full employment for surplus lawyers program more than a benefit to the accused.

Commissioner makes a quick call based on seriousness of offense and accused goes home or stays for a while. Has the benefit of lots of commissioner experience with what's big and what's small.

If ya gotta round up a trainee lawyer the process takes longer without guaranteeing a different answer. Detainee detained longer before being heard and possibly released.

In their example, the guy had drugs with him and bail was set at only $350. He was in stir since he didn't have it. But he was eventually released and nol prossed not because he was such a sterling example but because the system is overrun with like cases.

Good deal for him, but hardly justice for society at large!

Anonymous said...

The commissioner system is stupid, and out of date! We need to get with the rest of the country and quit this political game of appointing friends to a position of authority without any law degree. Most commissioners are well acquainted with someone in power to give them their job!

Anonymous said...

This would be a huge waste on $.. All we need is more lawyers on the state payroll. They've done enough damage already.

Anonymous said...

the gov will probably institute a bail tax