Md. panel discusses pretrial reforms

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A panel devoted to overseeing a program providing all criminal defendants in Maryland with an attorney during initial appearances met on Tuesday to discuss a game plan for developing reforms.

The 23-member Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System met Tuesday afternoon to establish subcommittees to study specific areas of pretrial systems.

Those subcommittees will study efficiency and cost, how to preserve fundamental rights of defendants and maintain public safety.

Maryland’s requirement that all defendants have lawyers at bail hearings went into effect on July 1. It followed a court ruling that having an attorney at an initial appearance is a constitutional right.

The commission was established by executive order to look at pretrial systems around the country. It will deliver recommendations for reform to Gov. Martin O’Malley by Dec. 1.

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