Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Proposed 72 Hour Hold for Maine Prisoners is Withdrawn

In Maine, prisoners are generally entitled to a court hearing within 48 hours of arrest. In some areas, staff and funding shortages have made if difficult to comply with the mandate. The proposal to "fix" the problem did nothing to foster compliance with the law. Instead, it would have changed the 48 hour rule to allow for up to 72 hours of pre-hearing detention. I was happy to learn today that the proposal has been withdrawn.

I wrote about the proposed rule change in an earlier post. There, I suggested that while increasing the allowable detention time might make things easier for the judicial apparatus, it would make things worse for the prisoner whose rights and freedom are at stake. It turns out that almost no one, from prosecutors, to sheriffs, to defense attorneys, supported the proposal. Today, the Supreme Judicial Court posted this notice formally withdrawing the proposed rule change. It reads as follows:
The Advisory Committee on the Maine Rules of Criminal Procedure has withdrawn in full its proposal to amend Maine Rules of Criminal Procedure 5 and 5C, which it had originally proposed by letter dated June 19, 2013. All of the Justices concurring therein, after considering the Committee’s letter dated August 20, 2013, in which it withdrew its proposals regarding these two Rules and recommended no changes to these rules, the Court has accepted the Committee’s recommendation. Accordingly,  no proposals  to amend Rules 5 and 5C  are currently pending, and the public hearing on this matter, previously scheduled for September 12, 2013, is hereby canceled.
I am glad they got this one right and it's nice to see that the Advisory Committee is willing to reverse course when the realize they were wrong. For more coverage, check out this Portland Press Herald Article.