During a January 8 appearance on the Marc Steiner radio show Governor Martin O’Malley and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller maintained that the Court of Appeals ruling in DeWolfe vs. Richmond, which established a requirement to provide representation to indigent individuals during the bail review process, was not “final” but rather still in the hands of the appellate process. As reported in the Baltimore Sun:
O’Malley dealt with questions about the ruling indirectly, saying he looks forward to the “exhaustion of the appellate process” on a matter the appeals court has already dealt with twice. In its last decision, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed prisoners’ rights to representation at any hearing where their liberty is at stake, but sent the matter to the Baltimore Circuit Court for implementation. That court has not yet acted.
Miller bluntly expressed his disagreement with the high court decision and expressed the hope that the Circuit Court’s eventual decision would be appealed to the Court of Appeals in a way that would give the high court the opportunity to reverse its 4-3 DeWolfe vs. Richmond decision. He pointed out that the Court of Appeals now has a new chief judge and a new member.
The article noted that if the decision is not actually final, the Governor and General Assembly would be able to delay instituting costly changes to the current bail system in order to comply with the DeWolfe decision. As previously reported on Conduit Street, two separate task forces–a legislative task force and a judiciary task force–have proposed recommendations for tackling this difficult issue.