Courts Issue Call For Panel Attorneys At Bail Hearings

A May 23 Capital-Gazette article reported the Maryland’s District Court has issued a call for panel attorneys to represent indigent individual at bail review hearings.

The court system announced that a new program will pay $50 an hour to attorneys who offer their time and legal expertise to represent defendants who can’t afford them. They’ll also be reimbursed for mileage and tolls. It’s expected to launch on July 1.

The program is the first of its kind in the nation and is meant to comply with a Court of Appeals ruling that Marylanders have a right to legal counsel at all bail hearings.
 The call follows changes in the court rules implementing the holding of the Maryland Court of Appeals DeWolfe v. Richmond decision, which established the right of an indigent individual to have counsel at the initial steps of the bail review process under the Maryland Constitution.  The holding posed significant costs to both the State and county governments.  In response to the case holding, the Maryland General Assembly considered a variety of legislation during the 2014 Session designed to reform Maryland’s bail system.  Ultimately, the General Assembly could not reach a consensus on the best approach and instead included $10 million in the State operating budget to cover the costs of hiring panel attorneys.  Any costs exceeding the $10 million will be borne by the counties.

Prior Conduit Street Coverage on Bail Reform

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