The Pretrial Justice Clinic’s challenge to a ruling by a Baltimore circuit judge made the front page of today’s Baltimore Sun.
Judge Yolanda Tanner was taped saying that she set a high bail to keep a defendant in jail. Maryland law requires that bail be used only to ensure that a defendant appears for trial.
Judge Tanner was talking with one of her clerks on Sept. 2 when courthouse recording equipment picked up the discussion; the judge said bail should be based on the offense, The Sun reported.
The judge’s comments come to light on the heels of an opinion this month by state Attorney General Brian Frosh, who said Maryland’s system of holding people in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay cash bail would likely be found unconstitutional.
Professor Zina Makar, co-director of the clinic with Professor Colin Starger, and student Adam Shareef said in their challenge that the judge “set bail knowing that the amount was out of reach … and [the defendant] would remain incarcerated.”