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Md. courts look to text messages to reduce missed hearing dates

(JanPietruszka /

(JanPietruszka /

The Maryland Judiciary is taking a page out of your doctor’s handbook and will soon be able to text reminders about court dates to anyone who opts into the system.

District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey said he hopes to have the system in place by the end of the year, calling it the Judiciary’s “big project right now.”

A defendant’s failure to appear doubles the work of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and court staff because hearings have to be rescheduled and creates a potential danger for law enforcement, who then get tasked with arresting people with open warrants.

“I think it will be great and it’s in everyone involved in the justice system’s best interest to reduce failure to appears,” he said.

Maryland’s average failure to appear rate between July 2016 and July 2018 was less than 10 percent, but there is still room for improvement.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said other states have implemented a texting system and saw their FTA rates dramatically decrease.

“A significant number of people will get that text message and show up when they otherwise would not have,” he said.

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