Court of Appeals Delays Vote on Bail Changes

The Maryland Court of Appeals held a meeting on January 5 on proposed changes to court rules governing the use of bail and other conditions for pretrial release.

After hours of  passionate testimony for proponents and opponents, the judges decided to hold off on voting to approve the rule change as a few of the judges expressed concerns they would like to have researched and addressed in the rule language before making any changes. Concerns included the availability of local pretrial services, potential conflicts with existing statutes, differences to comparable federal court rules, and the range of pretrial conditions available.

A motion was sustained to hold the vote until February 7 to allow time for changes to be made and concerns to be addressed.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Judiciary’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure voted 18 to 5 on amendments intended to provide clearer guidance for taking a defendants financial circumstances into consideration for setting of bond when the defendant is considered a flight risk or a danger to society. The rule was sent to the Court of Appeals for consideration and approval.

In advance of the open meeting on the proposed rule changes governing the bail process, MACo submitted a letter to the Court of Appeals citing broader concerns for local detention centers and public safety. In the letter MACo offered its general support for changes in the bail system — but remained watchful for unintended consequences that may trigger new costs or liabilities.

Prior coverage on Conduit Street:

MACo to Courts: Remember “Big Picture” Amidst Bail Changes

Court Committee Votes to Amend Bail Rules