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Claims remain pending in ACLU lawsuit over Baltimore police settlements

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Chief District Judge James K. Bredar ordered the case reopened because the city’s motion to dismiss the Baltimore Brew’s claims remain pending and are “ripe for disposition.”

The federal case challenging Baltimore’s practice of including non-disparagement clauses in police misconduct settlements was reopened last week after it was determined only one of the two plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz issued a one-page opinion Oct. 4 dismissing Ashley Overbey’s claims that the city’s pattern of including “gag orders” in police settlements violated her First Amendment rights.

Motz ruled that such clauses do not violate the Constitution and are valid and the plaintiffs, who are represented by the ACLU of Maryland and Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington announced an intention to appeal.

Overbey was joined in the suit by the Baltimore Brew, which argued reporters cannot present a full and accurate picture of police encounters without being able to speak to victims. According to an order Friday issued by Chief District Judge James K. Bredar, Motz only entered judgment against Overbey, not the Baltimore Brew.

Bredar instructed the clerk to reopen the case because the city’s motion to dismiss the Baltimore Brew’s claims remain pending and are “ripe for disposition.”

In motions, the city alleged the news organization lacks standing to sue because it cannot allege any injury and is not entitled to access information all parties have agreed to keep from the public.

Motz had not ruled on the city’s motion to dismiss as of Tuesday morning.

The case is Ashley Amaris Overbey et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore et al., 1:17-cv-01793-JFM.


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