State laws impact public access to online records

If you search for Maryland court cases online, you may see a new message: “No electronic record exists or case not subject to electronic inspection.” The new message will appear in Case Search, the Judiciary’s online database of court records either when there is no case record, or when a case record exists but the information is not publicly available.

A case record is a document or information that is collected, received or maintained by a court in connection with a judicial proceeding. Sometimes entire case records are not publicly available, including juvenile cases, adoptions, and sealed cases. Sealed cases are cases in which the entire court file is not available to the public, either because of court order or some requirement in the law.

Additionally, a case record can be shielded, which is when part of the case record is made confidential, but the remainder remains open for inspection. Shielded case records are records in which only certain information, such as an individual’s name, address or phone number, is protected from public viewing. This often involves the names of witnesses and victims in cases involving domestic violence, such as protective orders or peace orders and criminal matters.

Case Search website
The new message appears on the Case Search website

The Maryland Judiciary created the new message during a regular update of Case Search to comply with Maryland laws that require certain case information to be protected from public inspection. Electronic records, such as those found in Case Search, cannot reveal the name and other identifying information of victims and witnesses in criminal, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence and peace order actions. For example, in order to protect the identity of a person, the new message neither confirms nor denies that a case exists. Case Search does not confirm the existence of such a case because that would reveal the confidential name of the person. At the same time, it cannot deny the existence of a case that does exist.

Case Search is not the official case record but only a brief summary of information in the case record. For the official case record, you should visit the courthouse where the case was filed. Go to the Maryland Judiciary’s website, www.mdcourts.gov, for a listing of courthouses. To access Case Search directly, go to casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiryindex.jsp.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at (410) 260-1488.

“No electronic record exists or case
not subject to electronic inspection.”