Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill joins effort urging appellate court to affirm right to counsel in bail hearings

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill is seen at an August 2016 press conference. Photo: YouTube screen shot

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 19, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill joined 43 elected prosecutors from across the country in filing an amicus curiae brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Booth v. Galveston.

The prosecutors are urging that court to affirm defendants’ right to counsel at initial bail hearings, said a news release from Gill’s office.

“The decision whether to grant or deny bail is a critical moment in any criminal case,” said Gill, by way of the news release.  “The denial of bail means the defendant, who after all is presumed innocent until proven guilty, will be detained in jail until his case can be heard on the merits.

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“Research indicates that detention, even for short periods of time, can have tremendous adverse impact on individuals, families, and communities. Due process requires, at a minimum, that the defendant should be represented by counsel when that potentially life-altering decision is made.”

In the brief, amici argue that legal representation at bail hearings helps ensure fairness for defendants, and that failure to provide an attorney may result in uninformed decision-making and an erosion of public trust in the integrity of the criminal justice system, as well as inadvertent waivers by defendants of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

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