Judges propose reducing steps in bail process

Some of Maryland's judges are proposing the state reduce the number of steps in the bail-setting process.
 
A judiciary task force recommended on Wednesday that the state bundle two separate bail hearings into a single conference before a judge. That would eliminate the role of court commissioners who currently assign initial bail.
 
The task force is making recommendations to help address a ruling by Maryland's highest court requiring that poor defendants have legal representation at initial bail reviews. It's estimated complying with ruling could cost at least $30 million.
 
The judges estimate that holding only one hearing would only cost a little more than $6 million.
 
Public defenders warned a House committee on Wednesday about "hidden costs" to that, including more jail time before the initial hearings.
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