Administrative Office of the Courts v. Abell FoundationAnnotate this Case
The Court of Appeals agreed with the conclusions of the circuit court and the court of appeals that the record containing the "code key" assigning each judge a code for purposes of access to information about court proceedings and filings did not fall under the exception from public access in the Maryland Rules, holding that the code key was disclosable in response to the records request in this case.
An online database Case Search, which is overseen by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), provides public access to information regarding court proceedings. For cases in the District Court sitting in Baltimore City, the judge is identified by an alphanumeric code called the code key. The code key does not appear anywhere that is accessible to the public. Abell Foundation requested a copy of the code key from the AOC under the Maryland Public Information Act, but the AOC did not comply, citing the the exception for certain administrative records in Maryland Rule 16-905(f)(3), as it existed at the time. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Abell on judicial review, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the code key was disclosable in response to Abell's public records request and was not exempt from disclosure under the Maryland Rules.