Courthouse News Service, a news outlet based in California that covers courthouse news in all 50 states, is suing the Maryland Judiciary over its failure to immediately make court filings available for public viewing.
The lawsuit, which names the Maryland Judiciary as well as 22 circuit court clerks, accuses them of violating the First Amendment by failing to make public information public in a timely manner.
“Since time beyond memory, the press has reviewed new civil complaints minutes after they crossed the intake counter on the day of filing prior to docketing in courts across the country,” wrote CNS’ lawyers.
Typically, court records are available to the public as soon as they are filed. CNS says the Maryland Judiciary takes over a day to make the records public because the clerks are taking too long docketing them. The lawsuit claims over a quarter of Maryland lawsuits are not made available until a day or more after they are filed.
Before filing the lawsuit, CNS sent a letter to the Maryland Judiciary asking for the delay to be rectified. The Judiciary denied the request, saying it would be a violation of state procedure.
“Delays in access undermine the benefit of public scrutiny and may have the same result as complete suppression, as the newsworthiness of a new filing quickly declines with time, particularly in the digital age where there is a 24/7 news cycle,” the lawsuit reads.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BALTIMORE SUN