On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, Inc. (MCVRC), on behalf of all Maryland crime victims of detained juvenile offenders, filed an Amicus brief in Maryland highest court, the Court of Appeals, in a case called In re J.B. (and other unnamed but detained juvenile offenders), No. 19, 2019 Term. The petitioning juveniles had asked the Court of Appeals, on account of the Covid-19 virus, to order emergency remedies, including outright release for many, without requiring individual hearings in each case and without honoring the rights of the affected crime victims in those cases. MCVRC timely filed its opposition to this emergency request for blanket actions and releases, even though MCVRC was not been served with this court petition when it was filed four days earlier, despite the petitioner’s counsel knowing that MCVRC represents several victims of this class of juvenile offenders.
Treating this petition on an emergency basis, the Court ruled on April 10, 2020, consistent with the position that MCVRC urged. The Court found that there was no jurisdictional basis for it to order broad Covid-19 remedies and releases with no specific record below of the release request in any of the cases, and therefore no opportunity for any crime victims to be heard. Subsequently, on April 13, 2020, the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, exercising her administrative authority, ordered the lower courts to carefully review the custody conditions of any detained juvenile every two weeks, but specifically to honor the crime victims rights when doing so. On April 14, 2020, an article in the New York Times newspaper quoted the MCVRC Amicus brief by name as a factor in the court’s ruling.
MCVRC attorneys representing crime victims have attended and been heard at two recent release review hearings for juveniles denied release, one involving the victim’s death, and those matters will be reheard shortly pursuant to the new administrative guidelines
MCVRC is a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that the rights of victims of crime are fully implemented and that crime victims are treated with dignity and compassion. MCVRC (www.mdcrimevictims.org/help) remains open for business, much of it being handled remotely, including free legal representation, grief counseling, and other assistance. MCVRC can be reached, toll free, at 1-877-VICTIM-1.