Frequently Asked Questions
• How can I request that information being placed in a case record be kept confidential?
• How can I request permission to inspect case records that have been sealed/shielded?
• How can I request that public access to information in a case record concerning a peace or protective order be limited?
• What is expungement?
• How is shielding different from expungement?
• How can I find out more information regarding shielding criminal records?
• How can I view a judicial record or obtain a copy of a judicial record?
• Can I access judicial records online?
• How can I obtain a transcript or recording of a District Court proceeding?
• Are there fees for looking at and copying judicial records?
• Who do I contact to make a Public Information Act Request or if I have a question?
• Can I obtain judicial records in bulk?
- Administrative record that is created or maintained by the court or a judicial agency relating to the administration or operation of the court, a judicial agency, or the judicial system of the State;
- Business license record (excluding marriage licenses) pertaining to an application for a business license that are issued by the clerk of a court, and includes the application for the license and a copy of the license;
- Case record (including marriage licenses) all or any portion of a court paper, document, exhibit, order, notice, docket entry, or other record, whether in paper, electronic, or other form, that is made, entered, filed, or maintained by the clerk of a court in connection with an action or proceeding;
- Notice record (including deeds, mortgages, and land records) that are filed with the clerk of a court, not in connection with litigation, but for the sole purpose of providing public notice; OR
- Special judicial unit record that includes the records of three (3) special judicial units ((1) the State Board of Law Examiners, the Accommodations Review Committee, and the Character Committees; (2) the Attorney Grievance Commission and Bar Counsel; and (3) the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the Judicial Inquiry Board, and Investigative Counsel) that are subject to special rules of confidentiality.
What judicial records can the public access?
Judicial records are presumed to be open to the public for inspection except as restricted by the Constitution of the United States, the Maryland Constitution, the Maryland Rules of Procedure, federal law, applicable state law, court order, or case law. Except as otherwise provided, the custodian of a judicial record shall permit an individual appearing in person in the office of the custodian during normal business hours, to inspect the record.
- All case records filed in the following actions involving children:
- Adoption/Guardianship records filed under Title 9, Chapter 100 of the Maryland Rules (Adoption; Guardianship Terminating Parental Rights)
- Delinquency, child in need of assistance, child in need of supervision, and truancy actions in Juvenile Court
- Any document not yet docketed or recorded and indexed
- Backup audio recordings, computer disks, and notes of a court reporter that are in the possession of the court reporter and have not been filed with the clerk
- Certain case records in criminal actions or proceedings, including:
- A case record that has been ordered expunged pursuant to Rule 4-508 (Expungement of Records)
- Certain records pertaining to a warrant, application, and supporting affidavit prior to execution of the warrant and the filing of the records with the clerk and executed search warrants and all papers attached pursuant to Rule 4-601, except as authorized by a judge under that Rule
- Certain records pertaining to an arrest warrant
- Case records involving the refusal of a person to testify in a criminal action against the person’s spouse
- A presentence investigation report
- A case record pertaining to a criminal investigation by a grand jury, State’s Attorney, State Prosecutor, or Attorney General
- A case record required to be shielded by Code, Criminal Procedure Article, Title 10, Subtitle 3 (Incompetency and Criminal Responsibility)
- Certain marriage license information
- Certain papers filed by a fiduciary or a guardian of the property of a minor or disabled person pursuant to Title 10, Chapter 200, 400, or 700 of the Maryland Rules that include financial information regarding the minor or disabled person
- Certain case records containing medical information
- Case record that consists of a financial statement filed pursuant to Rule 9-202 (Divorce, Annulment, Alimony, Child Support, and Child Custody)
- Case records of the federal or Maryland tax return of an individual
- Case records pertaining to petitions for relief from abuse filed pursuant to Code, Family Law Article, § 4-504 (Domestic Violence - Petition for Relief from Abuse), which shall be sealed until the earlier of service or denial of the petition.
- Case records required to be shielded pursuant to Code, Courts Article, § 3-1510 (peace orders) or Code, Family Law Article, § 4-512 (domestic violence protective orders)
- Case records that a court has ordered sealed or not subject to inspection, except in conformance with the order; or in accordance with Rule 16-912(b), is the subject of a motion to preclude or limit inspection.
- Child abuse or neglect case records that are created or maintained by an agency that are required by statute to be kept confidential
- Document required to be shielded under Rule 20-203 (e)(1) (Shielding Upon Issuance of Deficiency Notice)
- Transcript, or an audio, video, or digital recording of any court proceeding that was closed to the public pursuant to rule, order of court, or other law
- Unredacted document filed pursuant to Rule 1-322.1 (Exclusion of Personal Identifier Information in Court Filings) or Rule 20-203 (e)(2) (Shielding of Unredacted Version of Submission)
How can I request that information being placed in a case record be kept confidential?
A person who files or authorizes the filing of a case record must inform the custodian, in writing, whether, in the person's judgment, the case record, any part of the case record, or any information contained in the case record is confidential and not subject to inspection under the Rules governing access to judicial records, Maryland Rules 16-901 through 16-914.
If a case record or any part of the case records contains information that is confidential and not subject to inspection pursuant to the Rules, a motion to seal or otherwise limit inspection must be filed with the court and ruled on by a judge.
CC-DC-052 - Request to Shield My Address / Telephone Number in a Criminal Case Record
CC-DC-053 - Motion to Seal or Otherwise Limit Inspection of a Case Record
An individual may request shielding of certain information, such as the address or telephone number of a victim, victim’s representative, or witness. This often involves domestic violence situations such as protective orders and criminal matters involving witnesses and victims. CC-DC-CR-001s – Request for Shielding of Information
How can I request permission to inspect case records that have been sealed/shielded?
A party to an action in which a case record is filed may file a motion to permit inspection of a case record that is not otherwise subject to inspection under the Rules. CC-DC-054 - Motion to Permit Inspection of a Case Record
How can I request that public access to information in a case record concerning a peace or protective order be limited?
In some situations, you can request that the public not see information about a peace or protective order case that involves you. To find out more, please see the Can I Keep the Public from Seeing Information About Me in a Peace or Protective Order Case? Brochure.
CC-DC-DV-021A - Request to Shield Denied or Dismissed Protective Order Records
CC-DC-DV-021B - Request to Shield Consented to Protective Order Records
CC-DC-PO-016A - Request to Shield Denied or Dismissed Peace Order Records
CC-DC-PO-16B - Request to Shield Consented to Peace Order Records
CC-DC-DV-PO-026 - Request to Withhold My Address from Public Access
What is expungement?
Expungement is the removal of records from public inspection. In Maryland, records may be expunged from 1) Motor Vehicle Administration files, 2) police files and 3) court and police files. Each process removes very specific files and must be done through the proper agency. You must apply for expungement of each arrest based on the date of arrest and according to the disposition. No process expunges the records from all agencies.
To find out more information concerning the expungement process, please see the CC-DC-CR-072BR - Expungement Brochure.
How is shielding different from expungement?
Shielding keeps some or all information in a case private from public inspection, under certain circumstances. Expungement removes court and police records from public inspection.
How can I find out more information regarding shielding criminal records?
Visit the District Court’s webpage concerning shielding of criminal records for more information.
How can I view a judicial record or obtain a copy of a judicial record?
Most judicial records are in the custody of a local Clerk’s Office. To inquire about reviewing a case file or request documents within a case file, please contact the Clerk’s Office at the courthouse where the case was filed or where the hearing or trial was held. Based on the District Court's Records Retention and Disposal Schedule, certain case records may not be physically housed at the court location.
Can I access judicial records online?
Case Search provides free, remote Internet access to certain information from Maryland case records as described in the Maryland Rules on Access to Judicial Records (Rules 16-901 through 16-912).
There are also computer terminals or kiosks available in the courthouses that the public may use free of charge in order to access judicial records and parts of judicial records that are open to inspection, including judicial records as to which remote access is otherwise prohibited.
How can I obtain a transcript or recording of a District Court proceeding?
The District Court of Maryland is a court of record, which means that all proceedings before the court are recorded. A typed transcript of a proceeding will be produced under certain limited conditions. Recordings on compact disc format may be requested by anyone. For more information, visit the Transcripts and Recordings webpage.
Are there fees for looking at and copying judicial records?
Unless otherwise expressly permitted by the Rules, a custodian may not charge a fee for providing access to a judicial record that can be made available for inspection, in paper form or by electronic access, with less than two hours of effort by the custodian or other judicial employee.
A custodian may charge a reasonable fee if two hours or more of effort are required to provide the requested access.
The custodian may charge a reasonable fee for making or supervising the making of a copy or printout of a judicial record.
The custodian may waive a fee if, after consideration of the ability of the person requesting access to pay the fee and other relevant factors, the custodian determines that the waiver is in the public interest.
Who do I contact to make a Public Information Act Request or if I have a question?
Most judicial records are in the custody of a local Clerk’s office. To request those records, please contact the appropriate Clerk’s office, which is generally where the case was filed or the hearing or trial was conducted. To request a public record from the District Court, contact the District Court's PIA representative.
Can I obtain judicial records in bulk?
Yes, subject to certain limitations. To request court data, contact the Administrative Office of the Courts' (AOC) Public Information Act (PIA) representative.
The Maryland Judiciary makes information about civil judgments and satisfactions recorded and indexed in the District Court of Maryland available on a subscription basis. For more information on how to obtain bulk civil judgment and satisfaction data, see the DCA-107 - Information and Request for Data Form.
Where can I find more specific information regarding the Md. Rules that govern access to judicial records?
For more details, consult Rules 16-901 through 16-914.