Maryland Public Information Act
The Maryland Public Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Maryland. Maryland statutes 10-611 through 10-628 define the law.
The Maryland Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statute 10–501 of the Annotated Code of Maryland define the law.
To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Maryland FOIA procedures.
Relevant legal cases
Here is a list of relevant lawsuits in Maryland (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).
|A. S. Abell Publishing Co. v. Mezzanote||1983|
|Belt v. Prince George's Co||1890|
|City of Baltimore Development Corporation v. Carmel Realty Associates||2006|
|City of New Carrollton v. Rogers||1980|
|Community and Labor United for Baltimore Charter Committee (CLUB) v. Baltimore City Board of Elections||2003|
|Faulk v. State's Attorney for Harford County||1984|
|Hamilton v. Verdow||1980|
|Pressman v. Elgin||1946|
- See also: Proposed transparency legislation, 2010"
We do not currently have any legislation for Maryland in 2011.
We have no current bill pages for Maryland from 2010. This may be due to incomplete research.
Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, was lobbying for the Maryland legislature to pass a bill that would require every SWAT team in the state to provide a monthly public report on its activities, including where and when it was deployed and whether an operation resulted in arrests, evidence seizures or injuries. In the summer of 2008, Calvo's home was the subject of a mistaken and violent drug raid during which his two black labs were shot and killed by members of a police SWAT team.
Maryland's transparency report card
A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Maryland 62 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "D" and a ranking of 11 out of the 50 states.
Features of the law
- Compare States: Sunshine variations
- Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.
Declared legal intention
The Maryland Code does not have a clear statement of intention, but does state that "all persons are entitled to have access to information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees."
What records are covered?
- See also: Defining public records
Public records are defined by the Code of Maryland as documents in any form, made or received by a public body, which pertain to government business.
Exceptions to Maryland's PIA include:
- Adoption information (10-616-B)
- Welfare information of an individual (10-616-C)
- Letters of reference (10-616-D)
- Library records (10-616-E)
- Library or museum donor information (10-616-F)
- Criminal records, only to prevent the solicitation of the individuals mentioned in the records (10-616-H)
- Medical records (10-616-J)
- Student information (10-616-K)
- "all photographs, videotapes or electronically recorded images of vehicles, vehicle movement records, personal financial information, credit reports, or other personal or financial data created, recorded, obtained by or submitted to the Maryland Transportation Authority or its agents or employees in connection with any electronic toll collection system or associated transaction system"
- Personal information from the Motor Vehicle Administration (10-616-P)
- Arrest warrants, until the warrant is served or has been issued for at least 90 days (10-616-Q)
- Inspection records for renewable energy credits (10-616-T)
- Surveillance images (10-616-U)
- Trade secrets and valuable commercial information (10-617-D)
- Personal contact information and financial information, excluding salaries, of state employees (10-617-E and F)
- Security information (10-617-G)
- Licensing information (10-617-H)
- Marriage licenses (10-617-K)
- Examination information (10-618-C)
- Academic research (10-618-D, H)
- Real estate appraisal for potential government acquisitions (10-618-E)
- Attorney general investigation information (10-618-F)
- Information concerning the location of environmentally sensitive material (10-618-G)
- See also: Deliberative process exemption
What agencies are covered?
- See also: Defining public body
All governing bodies at both the state and local level are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act.
It is interesting to note that Maryland law requires that if records are submitted to an incorrect department, then the custodian is required, within 10 days, to notify the person making the request and inform them of the correct department if known.
- See also: Legislatures and transparency
The Maryland Public Information Act includes the state legislature in its definition of public body found at Maryland Statute 10-611, thus subjecting the legislature to the act.
Privatized governmental agencies
The Maryland Public Information Act includes all private entities that were created by a public entity, are controlled by a public entity or perform a public function.
- See also: Universities and open records
The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, testing and exam material is explicitly exempt at Maryland Statute 10-618-C and academic research is exempted at Maryland Statute 10-618-D, H.
Who may request records?
All people and governmental units are able to make public records requests unless otherwise indicated by statute.
Must a purpose be stated?
- See also: States requiring a statement of purpose
There are not requirements concerning a statement of purpose. However, if the custodian of the records deems that inspection would go against the public interest, he or she may deny the record for up to ten days and petition for a court hearing to permanently exempt the record.
How can records be used?
- See also: Record use restrictions
The use of criminal records for the solicitation of legal services is prohibited by law.
Time allowed for response
- See also: Request response times by state
Maryland law allows the department 30 days to either grant the materials or deny the request.
Fees for records
- See also: How much do public records cost?
The Maryland law allows departments to charge a reasonable fee for the cost of duplication. Waivers are permitted considering the requester's financial status and the public interest in the release of the information.
- See also: Sunshine laws and search fees
The Maryland law allows departments to charge fees for any staff time in excess of two hours involved in the search, compilation, or reproduction of materials.
Records commissions and ombudsmen
- See also: State records commissions
The Maryland Records Management Division was established by the Maryland Public Information Act in order to better assist the state in determining what records should be preserved for historical interest and what records should be destroyed. While they do not hold hearings or decide cases about open records violations, they do possess a considerable amount of historical power, shaping what records are preserved by the state and permitting the destruction of current records.
Role of the Attorney General
- See also: Role of the Attorney General
The state Attorney General frequently issues opinions as to the applicability of the state's Public Information Act and issues guidelines to the various state agencies.
The purpose of the Maryland Open Meetings Act reads as follows: "It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that, except in special and appropriate circumstances: (1) public business be performed in an open and public manner; and (2) citizens be allowed to observe: (i)the performance of public officials; and (ii)the deliberations and decisions that the making of public policy involves."
- Maryland Records Management Division
- Maryland FOIA procedures
- Maryland transparency advocates
- Maryland transparency legislation
- Private agency, public dollars-Maryland
- Maryland Open Meetings Act
- Maryland Statutes Search laws GSG10-611 - 627
- Marylands Public Records law at Michie's Legal Resources
- Attorney General's Manual to Maryland Public Information Act
- Open Government Guide to Maryland
- Code of Maryland open meetings statute found at 10–501.
- Past articles on Maryland
- ↑ Reason's Hit-and-Run, "Maryland Bill Would Bring Transparency to Use of SWAT Teams", February 6, 2009
- ↑ Washington Post, "Bill Calls for More Scrutiny Of SWAT Teams by Police", February 5, 2009
- ↑ 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index
- ↑ States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007
- ↑ Freedom of Information in the USA, 2002
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-612
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-611-G
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-616-M
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-616
- ↑ http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/web_statutes.asp?gsg&10-617 Maryland Statute 10-617]
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-618
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-611
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-614-3
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-618
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-613
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-619
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-616
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-614-4-B
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-621
- ↑ Maryland Statute 10-621
- ↑ Code of Maryland
State of Maryland
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