Maryland’s highest court voted unanimously Tuesday to restore police officers’ names to the public online court database, overturning a change made last year that prompted an outcry when it went into effect last week.
The seven judges of the Maryland Court of Appeals called an emergency public meeting Tuesday afternoon in Annapolis to reconsider the changes, reports the Baltimore Sun.
The removal of officers’ names ignited swift backlash. Critics said police would be operating in secret. The timing proved particularly unsettling, they said, because the names vanished just weeks after two Baltimore police officers were convicted in a federal corruption case. The online database — known as Case Search — proved a valuable tool for defense attorneys working to locate past arrests by the disgraced officers.
Maryland court administrators initially defended the change, but they backed off Monday. Alan Wilner, a retired Court of Appeals judge who chairs the committee responsible for the changes, acknowledged the change was a mistake and that the group never intended to hide the full names of officers in the database.
He said the committee had only intended to replace officers’ first names with an initial, but the group erred in its procedures for adopting the change, which they discovered only recently.