On January 6, 2023, the Supreme Court of Maryland held an open meeting to consider proposed Rules changes submitted in the 213th Report of the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Rules Committee’s 213th Report recommended the adoption, on an interim and emergency basis, of a new rule and amendments that would change the current process for public access to electronic recordings of criminal cases. The proposed rule would no longer allow distribution of criminal proceeding recordings by request and instead require members of the press and public to review recordings at the courthouse.

The meeting followed the Memorandum Opinion and Judgement in Soderberg v. Carrion, Civ. No. RDB 19-1559 (D. Md.)., declaring Code, Criminal Procedure Article, § 1-201 unconstitutional as applied to lawfully obtained audio or video recordings of criminal proceedings.

At the January 6th meeting, the Supreme Court of Maryland decided to delay a decision on adopting the proposed rules and amendments. The Court stated that they received a number of comments from the press, attorneys and members of the public in response to the proposed changes. Some commentators shared that the proposed rule change would limit public access to review audio recordings of court proceedings, would not permit them to obtain copies of the recordings, and would greatly impact the press’ ability to cover criminal cases.

The Court voted to send the issue back to the Judiciary’s Rules Committee, to allow time for additional input and participation from members of the press, attorneys, and the public. In addition, the new timeline would allow the General Assembly, if they so choose, to participate and address this issue during the 2023 legislative session.

The MSBA continues to monitor and evaluate this important issue for our membership. Please contact us at advocacy@msba.org with any comments or questions regarding this matter.