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On the Record

The Daily Record's law news blog

Judiciary extends program to text court date reminders to defendants

The Judiciary has sent text messages to more than 9,000 people since December to remind them of court dates and plans to continue exploring options for the notification system.

A six-month pilot program launched in early December allowed defendants in district court who are screened for public defender representation to register their mobile numbers and later to opt in for text reminders.

The program, currently available to criminal defendants in counties with electronic filing — all except Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore city — has been extended an additional six months to explore potential uses in cases other than criminal, according to the Judiciary.

Between Dec. 3 and April 29, 16,575 people submitted applications and 9,202 later opted in, according to the Judiciary. Reminders are sent seven days and then again one day before a hearing or a trial date.

The goal of the program is to reduce the rate of defendants’ failure to appear for trial, a rate that has remained steady at approximately 10% in recent years.

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