Difference between revisions of "Maryland Public Information Act"

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To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: [[Maryland FOIA procedures]]
To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: [[Maryland FOIA procedures]]
==Recent news==
: ''See also: [[Maryland transparency headlines]]''
{{State news DPL|
state = Maryland
==Relevant legal cases==
==Relevant legal cases==

Revision as of 22:51, 10 October 2013

Find your State
Sunshine Laws
Open Records laws
Open Meetings Laws
How to Make Records Requests
Sunshine Legislation
Sorted by State, Year and Topic
Sunshine Litigation
Sorted by State, Year and Topic
Sunshine Nuances
Private Agencies, Public Dollars
Deliberative Process Exemption

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 Annoted 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

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA

Here is a list of lawsuits in Maryland. For more information go the page or go to Maryland sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon below the Year heading)

Lawsuit Year
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

Proposed changes

See also Proposed transparency legislation, 2010 or see sample transparency legislation at the Sunshine Standard


See also:Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011

We do not have any legislation for Maryland in 2011.


See also:Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010

We do not have any legislation for Maryland in 2010.


Main article: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009

Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland is lobbying for the Maryland legislature to pass a new 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.[1],[2]

Maryland's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Maryland #9 in the nation with an overall percentage of 58.30%. [3]

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.[4]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Maryland's law as the 29th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D+".[5]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations 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."[6]

=== What records are covered?=== 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. [7]


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" [8]
  • 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)

[9] [10] [11]

==== Deliberative process====

=== What agencies are covered?=== All governing bodies and both the state and local level are covered by the Maryland Public Information Act.[12]

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. [13]

==== Legislature====


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 which were created by a public entity, are controlled by a public entity or perform a public function.[14]

==== Public universities====

Status: Presumed Open
Popular Exemptions
ResearchDonorsExaminationsCourse Materials
600px-Yes check.png
600px-Yes check.png

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.[17]

=== Who may request records?=== All people and governmental units are able to make public records requests unless otherwise indicated by statute. [18]

=== Must a purpose be stated?=== 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. [19]

=== How can records be used?=== The use of criminal records for the solicitation of legal services is prohibited by law. [20]

=== Time allowed for response===

30 days

Maryland law allows the department 30 days to either grant the materials or deny the request. [21]

Fees for records

==== Copy costs:==== The Maryland law allows departments to charge a reasonable fee for the cost of duplication. Waivers are permitted considering the person requesting the documents financial status and the public interest in the release of the information. [22]

==== Search fees:====


The Maryland law allows departments to charge fees for any staff time in excess of 2 hours involved in the search, compilation, or reproduction of materials. [23]

=== Records commissions and ombudsmen:===

Maryland Records Management Division

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 decided 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===

Attorney General of Maryland

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. Click here to view Opinions of the Attorney General on the Maryland Public Information Act

Open meetings

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.".[24]

Notable requests

See also

External links