Public Defender Bills Moving Toward Compromise

Coverage in the Baltimore Sun (limited free views) details the relatively rapid progress of emergency legislation to remedy the recent ruling obliging massive new staff costs to provide indigent representation at bail hearings. MACo has supported these bills (SB 422 and HB 261) as an appropriate means to avoid massive cost increases on both state and local governments. From the Sun:

Faced with a court decision that could cost tens of millions of dollars to pay for lawyers at bail hearings, the Senate and House of Delegates passed conflicting measures Thursday to limit the scope of the ruling — setting up a potential tussle between the chambers on which approach to take.

The Senate bill, which passed 45-1, would give suspects held by police the right to be brought before a judge with a defense lawyer within 48 hours. The House bill, which passed 133-0, would not. It seeks only to make clear that defendants are not entitled to a lawyer until they appear before a judge when the court is next in session.


MACo Testimony:

SB 422

HB 261

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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