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Mayor Jack Young officially ends gag orders on City lawsuit settlements following Federal court ruling

Posted at 10:36 AM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-16 15:51:34-04

BALTIMORE — Following a Federal Appeals Courts ruling, Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young has signed an executive order that removes a so called "gag order" on those who have settled a lawsuit against a City employee.

Previous settlements, frequently involving the police department, have included non-disclosure agreements which prevented plaintiffs from speaking about the case.

In July, the Fourth United States Circuit of Appeals ruled that the agreements were unconstitutional and restricted free speech.

City Solicitor Andre Davis, a former federal appeals court judge himself, initially said he would appeal the ruling.

But in early August, Davis and Young pledged their support for freedom of speech after meeting with the ACLU of Maryland and Tawanda Jones, the sister of Tyrone West who died in police custody in 2013.

“I signed the Executive Order as affirmation that Baltimore will never again restrict anyone from speaking openly about their experiences with their government. This is a basic right that should never be limited" said Young.

The Order took effect Friday and is retroactive to people who’ve settled claims against the City in the past.

It states, "unreasonable constraints will not be employed in the Release and Settlement Agreements routinely executed in the settlement of litigation against the City, its departments, agencies, commissions, officials, and employees."

On Monday evening, City Council members are expected to hold a public safety committee hearing on a similar bill co-sponsored by Council President Brandon Scott and Councilwoman Shannon Sneed.