Committee Revises Rules To Reflect Bail Reform

The Maryland Court’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rules Committee) held a public meeting Friday, May 9 to address changes to court procedures as a result of the DeWolfe v. Richmond decision establishing the right for attorney representation at initial bail hearings.

The Rules Committee, chaired by retired Court of Appeals Judge Alan M. Wilner, went through the proposed revisions  as representatives of the Public Defender’s Office, the Sheriff’s Association, and private attorneys in attendance offered comments and amendments in a collaborative effort to help shape the rules.

Incoming head of the Maryland District Court Judge John P. Morrissey, who will succeed Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn following his retirement at the end of May, actively participated during discussion of the revisions offering feedback as to the feasibility of proposed amendments and the court’s commitment to implementing the Court of Appeals’ decision. Judge Morrissey often encouraged flexibility with proposed changes as many aspects of implementation remain to be ironed out. These kinks include determination of indigency for court appointment of council, processing and distributing the state’s one-year $10 million appropriation in FY15 to partially fund court appointed attorneys, and any future policy action to address the issue in FY16 and beyond.

Judge Wilner noted that the recommended rules will be submitted as emergency measures and would be sent over to the Court of Appeals as soon as Monday for final approval.