Tag Archive | Public Defender Cases

DeWolfe Update: Legislative Standstill and a Modest Alternative Proposal

By Michael Wein

As discussed in numerous prior posts on this blog, DeWolfe’s implementation has been an unexpected headache for the Court of Appeals. The Court held in 2013 that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to counsel at their initial bail determination. Legislation (discussed in my previous post), but nothing passed. It appears, however, that the General Assembly has appropriated $10 million to pay for counsel. I’ve not been involved with this case, but, having worked in Annapolis before law school, I’ll put on my legislative hat to propose a workable solution that would predictably cost under $10 million. To do this, three separate categories are necessary to first examine: (1) Baltimore City; (2) the interim constitutional solution using cost-efficient video conference technology, and (3) the long-term, non-constitutional, legislative solution. Read More…

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The Potential After-Effects of DeWolfe’s Implementation – Expanding Maryland v. King to Begin Testing All Arrestee DNA

By Michael Wein

There’s less than two weeks before the Maryland General Assembly adjourns sine die on April 7th. This poses an upcoming deadline for passing legislation complying with the Maryland Court of Appeals’ DeWolfe decision that criminal Defendants have a Constitutional right to representation in their initial bail determinations. The three main proposals are on the table, though a mixture of them is also possible. These proposals are (1) to have comprehensive and supposedly objective Preliminary bail determinations delegated to administrative Pretrial Services employees (that will effectively scrap the current system of review by a neutral magistrate, and thereby no Constitutional violations since no Counsel will be permitted), (2) an expansive and supposedly more expensive representation schema in place that will have full time defense attorneys representing defendants, and additional costs for judges, Court commissioners, courthouse security, etc., and (3) permitted some criminal defendants to affirmatively waive their right to Counsel for an initial appearance in order to get a pre-trial appearance before a Court Commissioner and release. (In the past day, after this was written but before being posted, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee favored by a 7-4 vote, Option 1, the Pretrial services approach.) Read More…

Time Is a Flat Circle: More Briefing Ordered in Public Defender Cases

By Steve Klepper (Twitter: @MDAppeal)

Today’s order from the Court of Appeals in Clyburn v. Richmond makes me think of the already-famous line in True Detective: “You’ll do this again. Time is a flat circle.” The Court of Appeals again adhered to its holding that a right exists to counsel at initial appearances, and it ordered another round of briefing and argument. Read More…

State Seeks Reversal of DeWolfe II: What Do You Think?

Yesterday, the State filed its opening brief in Ben C. Clyburn et al. v. Quinton Richmond et al., No. 105, Sept. Term 2013. Clyburn v. Richmond addresses the injunction entered by the Circuit Court for Baltimore City to implement DeWolfe II, which found a state constitutional right to counsel at initial appearances. The State has asked the Court of Appeals to reverse DeWolfe II. The State’s summary of that argument (from pages 27 through 29 of the brief) is pasted below. We’d love for our readers to start a conversation on both the substance and the form of that argument. Click here or go down to “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this post. Read More…

Maryland Public Defender Decisions: New Developments

Yesterday the Court of Appeals posted an order granting certiorari in Clyburn v. Richmond, limited to the following three questions:

1. Did the circuit court err in entering an injunction directing officials of the District Court to conduct initial appearances in a manner inconsistent with the existing rules promulgated by this Court?

2. Did the circuit court err in granting an application for supplemental relief based on a prior declaratory judgment without first issuing a show cause order, as required by the statute governing such applications?

3. Did the circuit court err in ordering officials of the District Court to appoint counsel for all arrestees at initial appearances and prohibiting those court officials from conducting initial appearances for arrestees who were not provided with counsel?

Argument has been set for March 7, 2014.  This blog has provided extensive analysis (see below) of the DeWolfe v. Richmond decisions regarding the right to counsel at bail hearings. We’ll be providing commentary on Clyburn v. Richmond — including the implications for DeWolfe v. Richmond — as details develop.

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DeWolfe v. Richmond: State Law or Just Law?

By Alan B. Sternstein

As recently recounted on this Blog,[1] the 4-3 decision of the Court of Appeals in DeWolfe v. Richmond, ___ Md. ___, 2013 WL 5377174 (Sept. 25, 2013), was notable as another in a growing line of state court decisions resting individual rights on the Maryland Constitution, as opposed to federal law.[2]  Expressly grounding its decision on Article 24 of the Maryland Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, the Court ruled that detainees at initial bail hearings have a right to counsel provided by the state, if they cannot afford or otherwise retain counsel of their own.  The convoluted procedural history of the case and related cases that preceded it evidences the substantial moment of the competing interests at stake in the decision.[3]  Not only does the decision broaden the protective reach of Article 24 of the Maryland Constitution’s Declaration of Rights but also, more practically and immediately, it is estimated that the ruling will require counsel to be afforded for 177,000 bail hearings at 188 different locations annually, at a cost, no less of $28 Million for the Office of the Public Defender, whose total current General Assembly allocation, set before DeWolfe, stands at $94 Million for all services the Office provides. Read More…

The Public Defender Opinion: The Implications of Resting on State-Law Grounds

By Kevin Arthur

It is axiomatic that a state constitution may afford greater rights than the analogous provisions of the federal constitution.  Moreover, if a state court “clearly and expressly states” that its decision rests on an “adequate and independent” state constitutional ground, the Supreme Court cannot reverse that decision even if federal law would not countenance the same result.  Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1041 (1983).  In effect, therefore, under Michigan v. Long, a state court may insulate an expansive ruling from further review by a potentially hostile federal court, as long as the ruling was based on an adequate and independent state constitutional ground. Read More…