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NACDL News: Another State Recognizes Counsel Is Required at First Appearance Where Liberty Is at Stake
By Ivan J. Dominguez and Isaac Kramer
NACDL News columns.
On Sept. 25, 2013, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled in a 4-3 decision that “under Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, an indigent defendant is entitled to state-furnished counsel at an initial hearing before a district court commissioner.” This means that every person brought before a bail commissioner throughout the state of Maryland is entitled to have a lawyer argue for his or her release before bail is set, regardless of the individual’s ability to pay for counsel. At least a dozen states and the District of Columbia have now explicitly recognized this right. The case is DeWolfe v. Richmond, No. 34. NACDL filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the plaintiffs.
NACDL President Jerry J. Cox praised the decision, stating, “Fifty years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, Maryland has recognized another obvious truth — that defendants require counsel to deal with pretrial issues such as bail
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