Government Records Maryland: Where to Obtain Government Records for the State of Maryland
The PIA or the Public Information Act of the state of Maryland gives the right to the public to access and request for government records without delay or unnecessary cost. The act is applicable to all the 3 branches of the state government of Maryland and the local government entities.
The Public Information Act of Maryland has got similarities with the federal FOIA or Freedom of Information Act that is applicable to the executive branch agencies of the federal government, as well as, independent regulatory agencies. In Maryland, the PIA gives the right to a person to review the available disclosable records, as well as, to get copies of such records. The Act does not make it mandatory for an agency to respond to informational queries or creating a record for satisfying the request.
The right of the public to get details about the activities of the government reflects the core of a government elected democratically. The PIA or the Public Information Act of Maryland grants a wide right to the state’s residents to access government records and also safeguards privacy rights and concerns of citizens, and legitimate governmental interests.
Defining a public record
Any public record has been defined as being a copy of or the original documentary material. It can exist in any form received or created by an agency for the transaction of any public business. Public records, for the purpose of this definition, include books, written materials, photocopies, photographs, microfilms, films, tapes, records, maps, computerized records, drawings, and other materials.
All government records in Maryland are not made available to its public
It is imperative to note that all government records in the state cannot be accessed by the residents. The Public Information Act of the state tries to strike a balance between the rights of the public to access government or public records with other policy if any, which respects the confidentiality or privacy of specific information.
For instance, certain government records are regarded as confidential and private by the state or federal statutes, under different common law privileges like executive privilege and attorney-client privilege, and under court rules. Also, the PIA safeguards specific records from being disclosed. Examples of such records include personnel records, adoption records, and specific personal details in Motor Vehicle Administration records. Also, some details mentioned in the government records should remain confidential.
Accessing certified information
The Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene maintains certified copies of marriage, death, and birth records. Each copy or certificate from the Vital Records Department can be obtained for 24 USD and there can be additional costs for rush service. The state office holds the recent marriage records only.
So any record that has been filed prior to 1st January 1990 can be only accessed via the Clerk of Circuit Court. Divorce paper verifications from 1st January 1992 to date are procured from the state. All previous divorce decrees, as well as certified divorce records for any period, can be only procured from the state’s Circuit Court.
Property related information in Maryland such as the tax records and parcel records can be accessed from the office of the county tax assessor. Online maps and tools are provided by the local county GIS departments of the state for geographic data and land use.
Any adoption record from private or public adoption agencies is considered confidential and can be prohibited from being disclosed to the public.
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