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Maryland law to improve accessibility to public records

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    NMU         MARYLAND         Freedom of Information         Jun 4, 2002    

Maryland law to improve accessibility to public records

  • A new state law requires record custodians to respond immediately to requests for record designated on a public records list and within 30 days if research is required.

Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening signed into law on May 6 legislation that will hasten the turnaround time for state freedom of information requests.

The new law requires custodians of state records to designate specified public records that will be available immediately upon request and to maintain a list of those public records.

Items on the list will be available without a formal written request. If a custodian determines that a requested record does not exist he must notify the requestor with 30 days of the request. All grants and denials of requests must be made within 30 days of receipt of the request under the new law.

A custodian may not routinely deny a request based on the requestor’s identity, affiliations or reasons for the request but may ask for identity, affiliations or reasons if he determines that inspection of a part of the public record is against the public’s interest.

In a dispute between the custodian and the requestor, the custodian must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he did not knowingly or willfully fail to disclose any part of a record required to be released.

The law goes into effect Oct. 1.

(HB 1024) MM

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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