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Having district court commissioners determine if defendants are indigent would compromise the commissioners’ ability to be neutral arbiters in cases, Chief Maryland District Court Judge John P. Morrissey told state senators Thursday. ‘We are not the prosecuting body,’ he said. ‘We are the neutral body.’(Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Public defender, Judiciary battle over who determines defendants’ indigency (access required)

The Maryland Office of the Public Defender squared off Thursday against the state judiciary over legislation that would transfer the responsibility for determining if a criminal defendant qualifies for state-sponsored counsel from the OPD and give it to district court commissioners.