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Judges propose reducing steps in bail process

Wednesday - 1/22/2014, 8:10pm  ET

NICK TABOR
Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Some of Maryland's judges are proposing the state reduce the number of steps in the bail-setting process.

A judiciary task force recommended on Wednesday that the state bundle two separate bail hearings into a single conference before a judge. That would eliminate the role of court commissioners who currently assign initial bail.

The task force is making recommendations to help address a ruling by Maryland's highest court requiring that poor defendants have legal representation at initial bail reviews. It's estimated complying with ruling could cost from $28 million to $30 million.

The judges estimate that holding only one hearing would only cost a little more than $6 million.

Public defenders warned a House committee on Wednesday about "hidden costs" to that, including more jail time before the initial hearings.


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