Bail counsel requirement delayed until June

ANNAPOLIS - Maryland's highest court says courts statewide won't have to guarantee a lawyer at every bail hearing until June at the earliest.

The Court of Appeals of Maryland said Tuesday in an order that it would delay the requirement until June 5. The attorney general's office can argue for a longer extension during a May 6 hearing.

State lawmakers may restructure Maryland's bail hearing system before then.

Assistant Attorney General Julia Bernhardt told the high court's judges Friday that the state is nowhere near ready to comply with the court's September decision requiring a lawyer at every bail hearing. Officials say the state doesn't have enough public defenders, and hiring the proper number could cost $30 million a year. The bail hearing attorney requirement had been scheduled to start Tuesday.

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