With just over 3 hours remaining in the 2014 Maryland General Assembly session, not a single piece of statutory legislation related to complying with the Court of Appeals’ decision in DeWolfe v. Richmond (Richmond II) shows any real chance for passage.
Senate Bill 973 (Frosh), which would establish a pretrial Services Unit in the Department of Public Satety & Correctional Services and utilize a Risk Assessment Tool to replace the discretion of a District Court Commissioner, is dead in House Judiciary (JUD). House Bill 1186 (Anderson), which would greatly expand the use of charge-by-summons in lieu of arrest, finally received a Senate hearing this afternoon, and appears to be dead in Senate Judicial Proceedings (JPR). House Bill 1232 (Dumais), which started out as the cross-file of SB 973, has been amended in the House down to the point where it would create a Task Force on Pretrial Risk Assessment . At this hour, it appears that all 3 bills may fall to defeat.
The Last Idea Standing to comply with the Richmond decision appears to be the amendment to HB 172 – the Budget Reconciliation Act (the BRFA), which would restrict $10,000,000 of the budget of the Judiciary of Maryland to require the Judiciary appoint counsel for indigent arrestees at initial appearances before District Court Commissioners for Fiscal Year 2015 only (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015). The pool of attorneys available for appointment would include panel attorney, pro bono attorneys, and Rule 16 third year law students working under a supervising attorney. The BRFA amendment does not specify a payment structure for participating attorneys, or whether that payment structure would be used uniformly across the state. Further, the amendment specifies that if any of the $10M remained at the end of FY’15 it would revert to the General Fund. However, should the cost of providing representation at initial appearance exceed $10M, the cost of representation would be the responsibility of the local jurisdiction where the representation takes place.
Two and one-half hours to go . . .