Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Shielding a Protective Order

The state of Maryland has a powerful, far-reaching and very public website.  It basically includes a great majority of the court cases filed in Maryland.  It includes civil, criminal, traffic, special proceedings and many other forms of cases.  It is a well-known and widely used website.  Employers use it for background checks, I use it to look for people or check on witnesses.  Some of those records stay on for years.  If you Google "Maryland Judiciary case search" it will get you write to that website.

Recently I had a high-profile client who some years ago had a protective order issued against him.  That protective order was dismissed but when I was doing some research for my client I found that he was still listed on the Maryland website.  There was his name and his address and a spurious claim that was dismissed by agreement.  I told my high-profile client about this rather public aspect of a long past incident.  He was justifiably upset.  I told him that there is a mechanism in Maryland whereby a protective order that is dismissed or where the petitioner loses at trial and their claim is denied can be shielded or sealed from public scrutiny.

It is not particularly difficult.  We petitioned the court for relief.  The court granted a hearing.  The "victim" would be notified of the hearing and could present their own evidence as to why the matter should not be shielded.  Assuming the victim did not meet that burden of proof the court would shield the record.  That is exactly what happened in this case and my high-profile client can enjoy his anonymity on this website.  In other words, if you go looking for him on this website you will not find him.

If you need help shielding or ceiling your record please contact me.

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