Md. Bondsmen Urge OK For Bill Curbing Releases

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Bail bondsmen in Maryland want Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to sign a bill that would wipe out a new court rule aimed at making it easier and less costly for those charged with minor crimes to get out of jail, the Baltimore Sun reports. The rule adopted by the state’s highest court last year requires courtss to inform defendants of the option to put up a 10 percent cash payment to make bail. The cash alternative in cases where the bail is $2,500 or less has long been in effect, but until this year there was no requirement that defendants be informed of the option.

The bail bond industry says that the court usurped the power of lower-court judges and bail commissioners.

Each side in the bail battle has a law professor and stacks of statistics to bolster its claims. Byron L. Warnken, general counsel to the Maryland Bail Bond Association and a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, says show defendants are far more likely to show up in court when the bail is provided through a licensed bondsman. Douglas Colbert, a University of Maryland law professor who supports the rules change, says statistics show exactly the opposite. He also says the new rule has not been given enough time to work.

Link: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.bail04may04,0,7873440.story?coll=bal-local-headlines

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