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Judicial branch abandons plans to limit access to records

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  1. Court Access

    NMU         MARYLAND         Secret Courts         Dec 20, 2000    

Judicial branch abandons plans to limit access to records

  • The Maryland judiciary abandoned a proposal to restrict electronic and other access to court records.

The Maryland Judiciary abandoned its plan to restrict electronic access to court records and to impose limitations on public access to records kept at the courthouse.

The plan would have limited dial-up access to the court’s electronic records to lawyers, police, and government agencies. It would have required anyone seeking court records to state their name and affiliation and to prove that they had a “legitimate” reason to look at court records. The decision to permit or deny access would have been left solely to the record custodian’s discretion. The plan would have also limited to ten the number of records any person could see in one day.

The Judiciary abandoned the plan due to extensive opposition. The Associated Press reported that over 160 people wrote to oppose the rules. Some opponents included the Reporters Committee and the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association. Other opponents included landlords, employers, childcare professionals, investigators, and ordinary citizens. Citizens also spoke out to oppose the proposed rules at a hearing on December 13.

Sally Rankin, the Chairperson of the committee that proposed the rules, stated that the committee still has concerns about unrestricted access to criminal court records, but acknowledged that the committee must include broader interests to balance privacy concerns with the public interest in access.


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