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RULE 16-904. GENERAL POLICY

West's Annotated Code of MarylandMaryland RulesEffective: August 1, 2020

West's Annotated Code of Maryland
Maryland Rules
Title 16. Court Administration
Chapter 900. Access to Judicial Records
Division 1. General Provisions
Effective: August 1, 2020
MD Rules, Rule 16-904
RULE 16-904. GENERAL POLICY
(a) 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 a person to inspect a judicial record in accordance with Rules 16-922 through 16-924. Subject to the Rules in this Chapter, inspection of case records through the MDEC program is governed by Title 20 of the Maryland Rules.
Cross reference: See Rule 16-922, 16-923, 16-924, and 20-109.
(b) 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 public 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.
(c) 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 or (2) marked for identification at a trial or hearing 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 (c) 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 need to protect privacy, safety, or security recognized by law permits particular evidence, or the evidence in particular cases, to be shielded.
(d) 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 means, 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. In determining the level of effort required, the custodian may consolidate separate requests by the same or affiliated requesters for similar or affiliated categories of records filed within a close proximity of time, as determined by the custodian.
Committee note: The intent of subsection (d)(3) is to deal with the situation in which a requester or affiliated requesters seek a significant number of records or parts of records that would take far more than two hours to locate and produce and arbitrarily break up the request into multiple separate smaller requests in order to avoid having to pay what would be a legitimate fee for the overall effort required. When this becomes apparent, the custodian may aggregate the separate requests and treat them as a single request for all of the records. This authority is not intended to curtail the ability of the custodian and the requester to negotiate in good faith a narrowing of the request.
(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 in accordance with Rule 16-932.
Cross reference: See Code, Courts Article, §§ 7-202 and 7-301.
Source: This Rule is derived from former Rule 16-903 (2019).

Credits

[Adopted June 29, 2020, eff. Aug. 1, 2020.]
MD Rules, Rule 16-904, MD R CTS J AND ATTYS Rule 16-904
Current with amendments received through May 15, 2022. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
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