RULE 16-902. DEFINITIONS
West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland Rules
MD Rules, Rule 16-902
RULE 16-902. DEFINITIONS
In this Chapter, the following definitions apply except as expressly otherwise provided or as necessary implication requires:
(K) judicial or other professional work product, including drafts of documents, notes, and memoranda prepared by a judge or other Judicial Branch personnel at the direction of a judge or other judicial official and intended for use in the preparation of a decision, order, recommendation, or opinion.
Committee note: A marriage license record is included as a case record under subsection (c)(1)(B) of this Rule. It does not fit neatly within the scope of either a business license record or a case record, but, with respect to issues of public access, it is better treated in the manner of case records. See Rule 16-907 (b).
(1) for a case record, notice record, or business license record, the clerk of the court in which the record was filed or the license was issued or, in the absence of the clerk, an employee of the clerk's office authorized to act for the clerk in determining administratively whether inspection of the record or any part of the record may be denied; and
Committee note: This definition of “custodian” focuses on who has authority to make the administrative decision whether, for purposes of the Rules in this Chapter, inspection of a particular judicial record may be denied. It is not intended to foreclose the application of a different definition that may be relevant for other purposes.
(i) Notice Record. “Notice record” means a record that is filed with the clerk of a court pursuant to statute for the principal purpose of giving public notice of the record. It includes deeds, mortgages, and other documents filed among the land records; financing statements filed pursuant to Code, Commercial Law Article, Title 9; and tax and other liens filed pursuant to statute.
(2) Case Records. Remote access to case records means access through the CaseSearch program operated by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Access to electronic case records through a terminal or kiosk located in a courthouse of the District Court or a circuit court and made available by the court for public access does not constitute remote access.
(l) Special Judicial Unit. “Special Judicial Unit” means (1) the State Board of Law Examiners, the Accommodations Review Committee, and the Character Committees; (2) the Attorney Grievance Commission and Bar Counsel; and (3) the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the Judicial Inquiry Board, and Investigative Counsel.
Cross reference: See Rule 20-109 (c).
Committee note: The Rules in this Chapter recognize that judicial records can be of five types: (1) those, like land records, that are filed with the court, not necessarily in connection with any litigation, but for the principal purpose of providing public notice of them; (2) those that are essentially administrative in nature--that are created or maintained by the court or judicial agency itself and relate to the administration or operation of the court or agency; (3) those that are filed or created in connection with business licenses (excluding marriage licenses) issued by the clerk; (4) those that are filed with the court in connection with a judicial action or the issuance of a marriage license; and (5) records of three special judicial units that are subject to special rules of confidentiality. The premise of the Rules in this Chapter is that, although the presumption of openness applies to all four kinds of records, they need to be treated differently in some respects.
Land records and other similar kinds of records that are filed with the clerk for the principal purpose of giving public notice of them are judicial records, but, because the court's only function with respect to those records is to preserve them and make them available for public inspection, there is no justification for shielding them from public inspection. Those kinds of records are defined as “notice records,” and it is the intent of the Rules in this Chapter that, except as otherwise required by statute, there be no substantive (content) restrictions on public access to them. One such statute is Code, Real Property Article, § 3-111, prohibiting the disclosure of certain identifying information in recordable instruments.
The Rules in this Chapter assume that the kinds of internal administrative records maintained by a court or other judicial agency, mostly involving personnel, budgetary, and operational management, are similar in nature and purpose to those kinds of administrative records maintained by Executive Branch agencies and that records pertaining to business licenses issued by a court clerk are similar in nature to records kept by Executive Branch agencies that issue licenses of one kind or another. The Rules in this Chapter thus treat those kinds of records more or less the same as comparable Executive Branch records. The Public Information Act (“PIA”) provides the most relevant statement of public policy regarding those kinds of records, and, as a general matter, the Rules in this Chapter apply the PIA to those kinds of records, at least with respect to the substantive issue of access. Rule 16-912 provides the procedure to be used to resolve disputes over access to all judicial records, including administrative records.
A different approach is taken with respect to access to case records--most of which come into the court's possession as the result of their having been filed by or with respect to litigants in judicial actions. As to them, the Rules in this Chapter carve out only those exceptions to public access that are felt particularly applicable. The exceptions, for the most part, are more particular than those provided by the PIA. Categorical exceptions are limited to those that (1) have an existing basis, either by statute other than the PIA, or by specific Rule, or (2) present some compelling need for non-access. In an attempt to remove discretion from clerical personnel to deny public access and require that any dispute over closure be examined by a judge on a case-by-case basis, the Rules in this Chapter require that all other exclusions be by court order.
To achieve the differentiation between these various kinds of court records, five categories are specifically defined in this Rule--“administrative records,” “business license records,” “case records,” “notice records,” and “records of special judicial units”. Some principles enunciated in the Rules in this Chapter apply to all five categories, and, for that purpose, the term “judicial records,” which includes all five categories, is used.
Source: This Rule is derived from former Rule 16-1001 (2016).
[Adopted June 6, 2016, eff. July 1, 2016; June 20, 2017, eff. Aug. 1, 2017.]
The June 20, 2017 order, renumbered Rule 16-901 as 16-902; changed the term “court record” to “judicial record” throughout the Rule; added the word “otherwise”; deleted an internal reference; changed the word “another” to the word “a” in subsection (a)(1); deleted language in subsection (a)(2) and replacing it with the language “of judicial agency”; added the language “magistrates or other judicial personnel” to subsection (a)(2)(D); added a new subsection (a)(2)(J) pertaining to policies, procedures, and plans; added a new subsection (a)(2)(K) pertaining to judicial work product; deleted current section (c); added language to section (e); added a new section (1) a definition of “Special Judicial Unit”; added a definition of “Judicial Record” to section (h); added the language of “clerk of” to section (i); added a subsection (1) to subsection (k) with language added to and deleted from the definition of “remote access”; added a new subsection (2) to section (k) pertaining to the definition of the term “case records”; and by adding clarifying language and making stylistic changes to the Committee note after subsection (k)(2).
MD Rules, Rule 16-902, MD R CTS J AND ATTYS Rule 16-902
Current with amendments received through April 1, 2020.
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