Maryland Public Records
The Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) grants the public the right of access to records that are created and /or housed by governmental agencies and offices.
The term “public record” includes not only written material but also all forms of media including photos, videos, recordings in every possible form that they might ever be created or stored in.
Exceptions to Public Disclosure
There are numerous exemptions to the disclosure requirement when it comes to the right of access; however, unless an agency obtains a special court order under the statute to justify withholding a record, there is no basis for withholding other than as allowed by exception in the statute. There are 3 types of exemption allowed under the law:
- External Law (Federal and State, Court Order) Certain information is protected by Federal or State laws that supersede the PIA statutes
- Mandatory Exemptions - exemptions provided for under the Maryland Public Information Act (PIA)
- Discretionary Exemption - this allows the agency discretion as to whether to release information or not.
SPECIFIC RECORDS that are Exempt: (in most cases you have a right to access your OWN records)
- Adoption and Welfare Records
- Personnel Records
- Letters of Reference
- Student Records
- Library Records
- Motor Vehicle Records
- Arrest Warrants
- RBC Records
- Police Reports - if sought for marketing legal services
- Miscellaneous - Toll Booth Usage Information, Hospital/ Medical Records, Anonymous Library Contributions, higher education investment contracts, photos created by traffic cams, etc.
If another law allows for disclosure of these records, then the PIA exceptions do not apply unless otherwise stated in correlation to the previously existing law. The converse is also true.
Specific Information that is Exempt:
- Medical, Psychological, and Sociological Data
- Trade Secrets and other Financial Information
- Home Addresses and Phone Numbers of Public Employees
- Occupational and Professional Licensing Records
- Records of an Individual Person's Finances
- Records Containing Investigatory Procurement Information
- Miscellaneous - information about system security and the related manuals, notary public info.
Discretionary Exemptions: Under SG §10-618, a custodian may deny the right of inspection to certain records or parts of records, but only if disclosure would be contrary to the “public interest.”
- Inter- and Intra- Agency Memoranda and Letters that would be privileged in litigation
- Testing Data - for academic, employment, or licensing examinations
- Research Projects - that an institution of the State or of a political subdivision is conducting
- Real Estate Appraisals - made for a public agency about a pending acquisition (except from the property owner)
- Investigatory Records - intelligence information, security procedures, or investigatory files
- Location of Plants, Animals or Property
- Inventions owned by Higher Education Institutions
- Certain Information owned by the Maryland Technology Development Corporation - Information relating to a trade secret, confidential commercial information, or confidential financial information.
While in most cases a written request to inspect a record is not necessary, it is recommended so that the custodian of that record knows exactly what you are looking for with no confusion. Also, in cases where the record is clearly open for public inspection, you are not required to identify yourself or the reason you are requesting access. This may not be the case in records that are protected. Records requests must be made with the individual agency that houses and maintains the records you are seeking.
Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse State Archives Building
350 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis, MD 21401
Toll Free in Maryland: 800-235-4045
Archives of Maryland (ONLINE)
Division of Vital Records
(Vital Statistics Administration)
6550 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown Road Plaza
Baltimore, MD 21215
Toll Free in Maryland: 800-832-3277
FULL LIST Phone Directory
120 West Fayette Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
410-230-3333 | Fax: 410-333-4197
Toll Free in Maryland: 888-639-7499
State Board of Elections
151 West Street, Suite 200, Annapolis, MD 21401
P.O. Box 6486, Annapolis, MD 21401-0486
Toll Free in Maryland: 800-222-8683
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Division Of Correction
6776 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21215
Division of Parole and Probation
6776 Reisterstown Road, Suite 305, Baltimore, Maryland 21215
Maryland Parole Commission
6776 Reisterstown Road, Suite 307, Baltimore, Maryland 21215
301 West Preston Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Toll Free: 1-866-223-6075