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Attorneys Required At Bail Hearings, MD High Court Rules

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's highest court has again ruled that poor defendants are entitled to have an attorney present at bail hearings.

The Maryland Court of Appeals issued the 4-3 decision on Wednesday.

Last year, lawmakers changed the law to address a previous court ruling, so lawyers would not have to be present at bail reviews. The law was changed due to the estimated cost of $28 million a year it would cost the state to comply.

The majority of judges, however, ruled that an indigent defendant is entitled to state-furnished counsel at an initial hearing before a district court commissioner, because the defendant's liberty is at stake. Unless released on his or her own recognizance, the judges say the defendant will remain incarcerated until a bail review hearing before a judge.

Don Rush is the News Director at Delmarva Public Media. An award-winning journalist, Don reports major local issues of the day, from sea level rise, to urban development, to the changing demographics of Delmarva.