City of Frederick v. Randall Family, L.L.C.
Maryland Court of Special Appeals
841 A.2d 10 (2004)
Angelika Potter was arrested and charged with running a house of prostitution in Frederick, Maryland. The city police executed a search warrant and seized a number of records, including a black book that contained client information. Potter pleaded guilty and received probation before judgment. As part of the plea bargain, Potter’s documents and materials seized pursuant to the warrant were returned to her. Upon receipt, Potter’s attorney began to shred the documents. A resident of the city made allegations that members of the police department were clients of Potter’s house of prostitution, which motivated the plea bargain. The Frederick News Post, trading as the Randall Family, L.L.C. (News Post) (plaintiff), made a request pursuant to the state’s open-records law to the City of Frederick (the city) (defendant) for copies of the investigative records. The city denied the request based on the law’s investigative exception. The city contended that the exception still applied even though the file had been closed, stating that disclosure would provide needless publicity to cooperating witnesses, would violate the involved individuals’ right to privacy, would reveal sources of police information, would hinder future law-enforcement proceedings, and would not further the public’s understanding of government. The News Post filed suit against the city, seeking disclosure of the records and injunctive relief to stop the destruction of the documents. The circuit court found in favor of the News Post, and the city filed an appeal.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Salmon, J.)
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