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RULE 16-903. GENERAL POLICY

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 16. Court Administration
Chapter 900. Access to Judicial Records
MD Rules, Rule 16-903
RULE 16-903. GENERAL POLICY
(a) Purpose of Rules. The Rules in this Chapter are intended to provide public access to judicial records while protecting the legitimate security and privacy rights of litigants and others who are the subject of those records.
(b) Presumption of Openness. Judicial records are presumed to be open to the public for inspection. Except as otherwise provided by the Rules in this Chapter or by other applicable law, the custodian of a judicial record shall permit an individual appearing in person in the office of the custodian during normal business hours to inspect the record.
Committee note: (1) For normal business hours, see Rule 16-403. (2) The definition of “business day” in Rule 20-101 (b) has no application to this Rule. (3) Remote access to case records is provided for, in part, by Rule 16-910.
(c) Protection of Records. To protect judicial records and prevent unnecessary interference with the official business and duties of the custodian and other judicial personnel, a clerk is not required to permit in-person inspection of a case record filed with the clerk for docketing in a judicial action or a notice record filed for recording and indexing until the document has been docketed or recorded and indexed.
(d) Exhibit Pertaining to Motion or Marked for Identification. Unless a judicial proceeding is not open to the public or the court expressly orders otherwise and except for identifying information shielded pursuant to law, a case record that consists of an exhibit (1) submitted in support of or in opposition to a motion that has been ruled upon by the court or (2) marked for identification at trial or offered in evidence, whether or not admitted, is subject to inspection, notwithstanding that the record otherwise would not have been subject to inspection under the Rules in this Chapter.
Cross reference: See Rule 2-516.
Committee note: Section (d) is based on the general principle that the public has a right to know the evidence upon which a court acts in making decisions, except to the extent that a superior privacy interest recognized by law permits particular evidence, or the evidence in particular cases, to be shielded.
(e) Fees.
(1) In this Rule, “reasonable fee” means a fee that bears a reasonable relationship to the actual or estimated costs incurred or likely to be incurred in providing the requested access.
(2) Unless otherwise expressly permitted by the Rules in this Chapter, a custodian may not charge a fee for providing access to a judicial record that can be made available for inspection, in paper form or by electronic access, with less than two hours of effort by the custodian or other judicial employee.
(3) A custodian may charge a reasonable fee if two hours or more of effort are required to provide the requested access.
(4) The custodian may charge a reasonable fee for making or supervising the making of a copy or printout of a judicial record.
(5) The custodian may waive a fee if, after consideration of the ability of the person requesting access to pay the fee and other relevant factors, the custodian determines that the waiver is in the public interest.
(6) A dispute concerning the assessment of a reasonable fee shall be determined:
(A) if the record is in an appellate court or an orphans' court other than in Harford or Montgomery County, by the chief judge of the court, and in the orphans' court in Harford or Montgomery County, by the County Administrative Judge of the circuit court for that county;
(B) if the record is in a circuit court, by the county administrative judge;
(C) if the record is in the District Court, by the District administrative judge; or
(D) if the record is in a judicial agency other than a court, by the State Court Administrator.
(f) New Judicial Records.
(1) Except as expressly required by other law and subject to Rule 16-909, a custodian, court, or judicial agency is not required by the Rules in this Chapter to index, compile, re-format, program, or reorganize existing judicial records or other documents or information to create a new judicial record not necessary to be maintained in the ordinary course of business. The removal, deletion, or redaction from a judicial record of information not subject to inspection under the Rules in this Chapter in order to make the judicial record subject to inspection does not create a new record within the meaning of this Rule.
(2) If a custodian, court, or judicial agency (A) indexes, compiles, re-formats, programs, or reorganizes existing judicial records or other documents or information to create a new judicial record, or (B) comes into possession of a new judicial record created by another from the indexing, compilation, re-formatting, programming, or reorganization of other judicial records, documents, or information, and there is no basis under the Rules in this Chapter to deny inspection of that new judicial record or some part of that judicial record, the new judicial record or a part for which there is no basis to deny inspection shall be subject to inspection.
Source: This Rule is derived from former Rule 16-1002 (2016).

Credits

[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016. Amended June 20, 2017, eff. Aug. 1, 2017.]

Editors' Notes

HISTORICAL NOTES
2017 Orders
The June 20, 2017 order, renumbered the Rule from 16-902 to 16-903; changed the term “court record” to “judicial record” throughout the Rule; added a new section (a) pertaining to the purpose of the Rules in Chapter 900; added the language “or by other applicable law” and made stylistic changes to section (b); added a reference to Rule 16-910 in the Committee note after section (b); deleted subsection (2) of section (c) and made stylistic changes to section (c); changed certain terminology in and added an exception to section (d); added a Committee note after section (d); added language to subsection (e)(6)(A) referring to two Maryland counties; deleted language from subsection (e)(6)(D); changed an internal reference and deleted a word from subsections (f)(1) and (2); and deleted current section (f).
MD Rules, Rule 16-903, MD R CTS J AND ATTYS Rule 16-903
Current with amendments received through November 15, 2019.
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