ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s “do-not-call” list of 305 police officers with “integrity issues” is not exempt from public records laws, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled on Thursday.
The three-judge panel determined the document could not be classified as a personnel record which might be exempt from public records requests because the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office does not have the ability to hire, fire or directly discipline Baltimore City Police officers.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Rain Stopping, Alert Day On Saturday
The court also ruled the list does not get an exemption for “attorney work-product,” because such documents are prepared for a specific trial.
Additionally, the court found Mosby’s office’s refusal to waive $18,000 in fees to for two public records requests was “arbitrary and capricious.”
Following news of the ruling, Mosby released a statement saying she planned to release the list “in short order,” but did not specify a timeline.
“We were told by the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year that we were legally prohibited from releasing our Do Not Call list,” she said. “I have always been clear about my desire to release this list, and this ruling and the recent MPIA law change, which I advocated for, gives us the authority to release the list.”
A representative from Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office challenged that characterization, saying Mosby could have released the list at any point and chose not to.
“It was the State’s Attorney’s Office’s decision initially to withhold the information,” said spokesperson Raquel Coombs. “Subsequently, our office offered legal advice that the State’s Attorney’s Office was within its rights to do so.”READ MORE: Friends And Family Hold Candlelight Vigil For Slain Baltimore Teen
Mosby first disclosed there were 305 Baltimore police officers on the “do-not-call list” in December 2019 during testimony before the Maryland Commission To Restore Trust In Policing, a state group tasked with investigating the the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force.
Officers on the list are not necessarily excluded from testifying, Mosby said, but her office would “provide automatic disclosure” to defense attorneys when these officers are involved in cases. A smaller number of officers on the list are excluded from providing testimony, she said.
Baltimore Action Legal Team, a nonprofit group of activist lawyers, filed a Maryland Public Information Act request for the “names, ranks, badge numbers, job assignments, and dates of hire of the individual officers” on the list on Dec. 6, 2019, according to appeals court ruling.
In January 2020, Mosby’s office denied the request, saying it met the “personnel record” exemption.
Baltimore Action Legal Team filed subsequent public records requests for investigations into the criminal conduct of police officers during the 2019 calendar year and any cases that had been open for more than 16 months, and for the files on any “directed at potential or alleged criminal conduct” of one particular officer.
Mosby’s office said it would cost $15,000 for attorneys and clerks to assemble the records to process the first request, and an additional $3,000 for the second.
Baltimore Action Legal Team asked for the fees to be waived, citing the public interest in the information, but did not receive a response.MORE NEWS: Baltimore Police Unveil “SMART” Crime Strategy As Violence Surges; Hogan Weighs In
The nonprofit and another group demanding police transparency, Open Justice Baltimore, sued in March 2020. A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge ruled the list could not be released and the State’s Attorney’s Office was allowed to waive the fees because Baltimore Action Legal Team did not provide evidence it couldn’t afford to pay them.