Court of Appeals Unanimously Approves Changes to Bail Rules

The Maryland Court of Appeals has approved changes to the state’s court rules governing the use of bail that are intended to prevent defendants from being held in jail pretrial simply because they cannot afford bail.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The seven-member Court of Appeals unanimously agreed on a compromise that preserves money bail when it is the least onerous way to ensure a defendant appears for trial.

The rule won praise from both bail reform advocates and the bail bond industry, which felt threatened by the original proposal from the court’s rules committee.

The court’s action, which does not require legislative approval, largely accepts the legal reasoning of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. The state’s chief lawyer, a Democrat, issued advice last year that it is unconstitutional to hold a defendant in jail for no reason other than an inability to afford money bail.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, rule changes were proposed 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 changes stemmed from a letter of advice issued by the Attorney General stating that the current system could be found to be unconstitutional and in violation of due process.

For more information read:

Maryland Court of Appeals: Defendants can’t be held in jail because they can’t afford bail (The Baltimore Sun)

Prior coverage on Conduit Street:

Court of Appeals Delays Vote on Bail Changes

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

Court Committee Votes to Amend Bail Rules