Role of the Judiciary in Pretrial Release

There is a vital role judges can and should play in insuring pretrial justice. For many who stand accused, their first appearance before a judicial officer will decide the entire trajectory of their case. Being released not only means returning to a job, family, community, and home, but it means having markedly better opportunities to assist in your defense and having significantly better case outcomes. In most states, that initial appearance is conducted without the assistance of counsel, leaving an accused to rely upon the decision-making of a judicial officer.

By promoting practices that ensure individualized decision-making, protect due process, provide access to counsel, conduct meaningful scrutiny of probable cause statements, and decrease reliance on monetary bail and unnecessary release conditions, judges can positively support meaningful improvements to pretrial practices without compromising concerns about public safety. To assist judges in their efforts to fulfill this role, NACDL offers the following resources

Views from the Bench: Judicial Views on Pretrial Practices  featuring Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, Scott Bales and former California Superior Court Judge and former Director of DOJ's Access to Justice Program, Lisa Foster.


NACDL's Judicial Responsibility for Justice in Criminal Courts

A report from a 2017 conference hosted by the Monroe Freedman Institute for the Study of Legal Ethics at Hofstra University's Maurice A. Deane School of Law. The 2-day program featured an array of court system stakeholders including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, scholars, and policy experts brought together to identify and develop practices that courts can adopt to improve the delivery of substantive and procedural justice. Convening Organizations included: the Freedman Institute, the State of New York Unified Court System, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Center for Court Innovation, and NACDL. Conference report authored by Andrea Marsh, University of Texas School of Law. Additional support provided by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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