A coalition of Maryland media helped beat back, at least for now, a court administrative initiative that would have-in the interest of privacy-restricted access to the state database to police, lawyers and government agencies and limited the number of documents accessed. Maryland currently offers a centralized database available for $50 per year and used by some 3,000 businesses and other entities. Court records there are used for criminal-record and background checks for employees and loan candidates at government-insured financial institutions, background checks for child-care and other workers, nursing and health-care facilities, and various information provided to nonprofit and media organizations.
Broadcast and print media, said WBAL-TV Baltimore News Director Princell Hair, "all felt the same way. Of course there needs to be privacy, but how can we hold the powerful accountable if we don't have access to what they're doing?"