Proudly Serving Maryland, Delaware and D.C. News Organizations Since 1908

217th Report of the Rules Committee

July 3, 2023

News media orgs help maintain access to recordings of court proceedings in Maryland.

In the latest Report of the Rules Committee to the Supreme Court of Maryland, the Committee proposed new rules that will allow more discretion to seal sensitive testimony while maintaining access to the recordings of proceedings. In late 2022, in reaction to the federal decision in Soderberg v. Carrion, which overturned Maryland’s prohibition on broadcasting legally obtained audio of court proceedings. The December 2022 rulesought to broaden the unconstitutional Broadcast Ban by creating significant barriers to access. Under the new proposed rule and its related amendments, members of the public could access criminal court proceedings only “at a time and place designated by the court and under the supervision of a court official.” Further, the public would not be allowed to make copies or retain the recordings.

A broad coalition of advocates decried the proposed rule and media organizations were particularly vocal, submitting comments [attached] and ultimately a proposal for a path forward [attached]. 

After several meetings and discussion with advocates, the Rules Committee settled on the proposed Rule contained in the 217th Report. This Rule preserves access by members of the public and media in the same way access currently operates and creates a much higher standard for shielding: “…clear and convincing evidence (1) that a compelling reason exists under the particular circumstances to shield the information from public access and inspection and (2) that no substantial harm will result from the shielding,…” 

The Press Association will continue to monitor this issue, as well as the related topic of cameras in the courtroom.

Subscribe to our Weekly Planner