October 04, 2013

The Baltimore Sun features Venable right-to-counsel win for poor suspects at bail hearings

2 min

On September 25, a Venable team led by partners Mitch Mirviss and Michael Schatzow won a decisive victory in an on-going right-to-counsel case in the Court of Appeals of Maryland, successfully litigating a constitutional challenge to Maryland’s denial of counsel at bail hearings. In its 4-3 ruling, the court said the Maryland Constitution’s Declaration of Rights requires that indigent defendants be provided state-furnished counsel at all bail hearings.

Mirviss explained that before the decision, “thousands of individuals [did] not [have] constitutionally required representation.” He said he was “elated” by the ruling but disappointed it took so long to reach.

In the case, state officials argued that poor suspects get plenty of representation throughout the judicial process and that it’s too costly to staff public defenders at every bail hearing. Mirviss countered that the cost estimates are inflated, saying that “every study that has looked at the effect of providing counsel to criminal defendants has found that it saves the state money by eliminating the costs of unnecessary incarceration.”

Venable attorneys began litigating the case pro bono in 2006 at the request of law students from the Access to Justice Clinic at the Francis M. Carey Maryland School of Law who, in their clinical work, saw the problems with Maryland bail hearings.

The Baltimore Sun featured this victory in an article on September 25, 2013.