Madeleine O'Neill//October 13, 2021
//October 13, 2021
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Friday that she will soon make public a “do not call” list of city police officers with integrity issues, which she has repeatedly refused to release, after a state appeals court ruled against her office this week.
Mosby said in a statement that she will release the list “in short order” after the state Court of Special Appeals ruled Thursday that her office improperly failed to disclose the list in response to a public records request from the Baltimore Action Legal Team.
Defense lawyers and activists have for years called for the list’s release. Mosby publicly acknowledged in 2019 that she had a list of 305 police officers with “integrity issues and/or allegations of integrity issues” that made it challenging for them to testify in court.
The list’s release is “long overdue,” said Matt Zernhelt, BALT’s legal director.
The group sued after Mosby’s office denied a request for the list on the grounds that it contained personnel records and attorney work-product.
The Court of Special Appeals ruled that the “do not call” list is not exempt from disclosure, overturning a lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Mosby’s office.
“I hope that this list can change practices, especially around pretrial practices,” Zernhelt said. “If we know what officers are not going to be relied on in a case, it’s certainly to the benefit of the folks that are having their lives destroyed by being held pretrial.”
Mosby’s office fought the disclosure of the list last year, when public defenders asked a judge to compel its release (the parties ultimately reached an agreement), and when BALT requested the list through Maryland’s Public Information Act.
According to the Court of Special Appeals’ opinion, however, Mosby said in October 2020 that the “only reason” the list had not been disclosed was that investigations of misconduct by police officers were considered personnel records, which are shielded under Maryland’s public record law.
“In sum, I believe in transparency and have no philosophical objection to releasing information on police misconduct,” Mosby said in an email, according to the opinion. “It is simply the case that my office has been instructed that this would be illegal, and we are duty bound to obey the law. In the absence of such a legal prohibition, we would have been pleased to produce the requested records.”
That legal prohibition no longer exists since the passage of Anton’s Law, which went into effect on Oct. 1. The law removed police misconduct and disciplinary records from the category of protected personnel records.
In a statement Friday, Mosby blamed the Maryland Attorney General’s Office for the list’s continued secrecy.
“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.”
But a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office told The Baltimore Sun that it was the State’s Attorney’s Office’s decision to withhold the list from BALT and that the office could have chosen to release the list at any point during BALT’s lawsuit.