right to counsel, criminal justice, indigent defendents, Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct
In this case the appellants sought to overturn a decision by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City that held criminal defendants have a right to representation by an attorney at an initial bail hearing. Due to their concern about the quality of justice given to criminal defendants in the state’s criminal justice process, law professors at both the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland filed an amicus brief with the Maryland Court of Appeals in support of the appellees.
The amici presented one issue: Did a Court of Appeals decision in 2001 holding that the Maryland Public Defender Act created a right to counsel during all stages of a criminal proceeding include the right to representation at the initial appearance where bail is set by a judicial officer?
The professors argue that the right to counsel under Maryland’s Public Defender Act (as re-codified in the Maryland Code of Criminal Procedure) is broader than the Constitutional right to counsel. They contend that the statutory issue is dispositive of the case, and that there is no need to reach the broader constitutional issues raised by the plaintiff class. They cite earlier U.S. Supreme Court cases that hold that a defendant’s initial appearance where he is informed of the charges, and his liberty may be restricted by the denial of bail, is the start of adversarial judicial proceedings. So it follows that under the Maryland statute, as interpreted in 2001 by the Court of Appeals, representation by counsel is required.
Criminal Law | Criminal Procedure