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.