Elect Todd Oppenheim, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge

Equal Justice for All

Baltimore’s court system is rigged against the accused—especially when the defendant is black or poor. In my courtroom, I will follow the law, but always uphold the rights of the accused and make sure every defendant is given a fair trial. Judges cannot pass laws, but still must work to fix a broken system. Below is my four-point plan to bring about Equal Justice in Baltimore.

  1. Reform Baltimore's Bail System. Too many judges in Baltimore use bail to punish defendants—before the case even goes to trial. So much for “innocent until proven guilty!” I believe that bail should never be used punitively. If I had my way, I would abolish the money bail system altogether. But until that happens, I pledge never to set unreasonable bails. Whenever possible, I will use other release options, and will rely on pretrial community supervision to make sure defendants appear at trial. I will also fight for new options for revisiting bails later in the legal process.
  2. Restore 4th Amendment Rights to Baltimore. The 4th Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure. But in Baltimore, judges turn a blind eye when law enforcement violates this basic right. We need to replace judges who “rubber stamp” police misconduct. As judge, I will put police and citizens on equal footing in the courtroom. I pledge to root out all illegal searches and seizures, and I will carefully scrutinize every search warrant. No more free passes for the police.
  3. End Baltimore’s War on Drugs. The War on Drugs has led to the mass incarceration of drug offenders, but it has not solved the drug problem or made our city safer. It has only made the problem worse, breaking up families and eroding communities. It’s time for a new approach. We need to start prioritizing violent cases over drug cases. As judge, I will insist on treatment over incarceration and discourage mandatory sentencing whenever possible. Our drug laws need an overhaul.
  4. Make Civil Equality a Basic Right. I believe those involved in civil cases should have the same right to an attorney as defendants in criminal cases. No one should have an advantage, rich or poor, in the eyes of the law. As judge, I will push for more appointed attorneys for poor people in civil cases. See civilrighttocounsel.org/ for more about this issue.