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Public defender seeks private attorneys’ help after Baltimore arrests

Maryland Public Defender Paul B. DeWolfe has put out a call for private attorneys to assist in representing the more than 200 people arrested in Monday night’s rioting in Baltimore.

Public defenders and the private lawyers will be available to indigent arrestees after their initial appearance before district court commissioners. Individuals remanded to custody after these initial appearances are entitled to public-defender representation at their bail review hearings before judges.

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These review hearings were postponed Tuesday, as Baltimore circuit and district courts were closed.

“We’re seeking volunteer attorneys from the private bar,” DeWolfe said, adding his office can also pay private attorneys at a rate of $50 per hour.

“A lot of people [in the private bar] are reaching out, offering to help,” DeWolfe said Tuesday.

“We are prepared to go into court and represent these folks,” he added. “We will be able to argue their case for release.”

DeWolfe said the public defender’s office will also argue against the imposition of bail amounts the indigent defendants cannot afford.

“This is a poor community,” he said. “Putting high bonds on those who cannot afford even nominal bonds sends the wrong message — that if you have money you get released — and may fan the flames of frustration.”