Tag Archive | United State Supreme Court

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…