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Decision to allow access to governor's records, schedules stayed

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Decision to allow access to governor's records, schedules stayed 11/16/98 MARYLAND--In late October, a Maryland trial court ordered Gov. Parris…

Decision to allow access to governor’s records, schedules stayed

11/16/98

MARYLAND–In late October, a Maryland trial court ordered Gov. Parris Glendening to turn over calendars, schedules and phone records for himself and his aides to The Washington Post. A Maryland appellate court then promptly stayed the execution of the order pending an expedited appeal.

Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Joseph Murphy granted the stay after the lower court ordered Glendening to disclose phone records, calendars and scheduling information for a six-month period in 1996 to the newspaper.

The lower court found that Glendening, with limited exception, failed to demonstrate sufficiently that the records were covered by an executive privilege, or were exempt from disclosure under Maryland’s Public Information Act.

The Post filed suit against Glendening in 1997 to gain access to the records. Glendening argued that the records are protected by statute and executive privilege. In early July of this year, the trial court ordered Glendening to produce the records for an in camera inspection and said that it would determine which of the records to release to the newspaper.

The trial court’s July ruling exempted from disclosure records “which are of a deliberative and pre-decisional nature” on the grounds that the governor must have the ability to confer and negotiate privately.

However, the court ruled that factual records would be exempt only if Glendening could prove several factors, including whether disclosure would impinge on the deliberative process. The court then ordered Glendening to produce the records for inspection along with an explanation why disclosure should be denied for each item. The trial court’s October ruling came after its examination of the records.

Glendening maintains that Maryland will lose business opportunities if he is required to disclose the names of individuals he contacts, according to the Post. (The Washington Post v. Office of the Governor: Media Counsel, Karen M. Kramer, Patrick J. Carome, Washington, D.C.)