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Changes to MD Case Search, "an honest mistake"

Rule that removes officer's names under scrutiny
Posted at 4:19 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 17:43:28-05

The chair of a rules committee responsible for blocking law enforcement officer’s names from case information online called the decision, “an honest mistake.”             

For many, the heart of this issue is transparency.

When searching any case in the state on Maryland Judiciary’s Case Search website, a person would be able to see the officers involved in that case.

As of Friday, that information suddenly disappeared.

It was a recommendation heard originally by the Court of Appeals of Maryland Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure and adopted by the court in June of 2017

The backlash was swift, from police departments saying they never asked for the change to attorneys who say it was just wrong.

Under the banner transparency for all, Baltimore State's Attorney candidate Thiru Vignarajah released his own database of police witness information from 2010 to 2017.

Ivan Bates, also running for city state's attorney called a press conference Monday saying he and other attorneys have leaned on the rules committee to reverse this change.

"That's what everybody wants, the system to be transparent,” Bates said, “The system to treat everyone fairly and the system to work. And that is what we are hoping to try and get from this rule change."

To that end the Maryland Court of Appeals announced an emergency hearing about the rule change.

Along with the effects of the rule change, judges will consider a letter from the rules committee.

In it the chair, Judge Alan Wilner says the exclusion of police officers and other individuals from the public case search website was, “an honest mistake, not for any improper motive, but a mistake that never should have occurred and for which I humbly apologize.”

Wilner goes on to say that the information was deleted but can be restored on an emergency basis, if that is what the court desires to do.

The court may make that decision as early as tomorrow.