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Mobtown Beat

Online Court Records: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Users of the state’s online court records database (courts.state.md.us/courtrecords.html) saw a new message beginning on March 14: “No Electronic Record Exist [sic] or Case Not Subject to Electronic Inspection.”

Searching for some names brings dozens of copies of this message. For other names there are none. Most people with criminal court records seem to have at least a few that are “not subject to electronic inspection.” The message appears at the top of many searches ordered by date, though there is no date, or any other information, on the line.

The message telling you there is no information is actually new information, according to a state judiciary spokeswoman.

“It’s a global message to account for a variety of scenarios,” says Terri Bolling, a spokeswoman for the State of Maryland Judiciary. “It means that either no record exists to be reported by the court system or that a court record exists, but the information is not publicly available.”

In the past, she says, the online court records user would have no inkling that there were any hidden cases.

If a case has been sealed, the person seeking to look at it will have to petition the court to open the case. The case number will not be available to aid in this quest. If a case is expunged, there will be no record, Bolling says, though that process can take up to 90 days, during which time only the name and case number will appear.

Bolling cautions users that the “Case Search” feature of the online Judicial Information System “is not the official court record and is only a summary of information in the court record. For the official case record, people should visit the courthouse where their case was filed.”

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