PUBLIC RECORDS BLOCKED Maryland Attorney General Required Release of DUI Records After Being Blocked in Retaliation for Report on FBI Investigating Sheriff Mike Evans

PUBLIC RECORDS BLOCKED: Maryland Attorney General Required Release of DUI Records After Being Blocked in Retaliation for Report on FBI Investigating Sheriff Mike Evans

BY KEN ROSSIGNOL
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

PRINCE FREDERICK, MD. – Following a May 2018 news report in THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY of the FBI investigating Sheriff Mike Evans’s improper handling of drugs he retrieved from a Solomon’s Nursing Home, Assistant Sheriff Dave McDowell, himself a candidate for sheriff in 2022, blocked the release of DUI arrest reports.

McDowell admitted in writing that the decision to no longer release DUI arrests of Calvert Sheriff’s deputies was in response to the coverage of the actions of the FBI and the Evans investigation.  Following the intervention of the firm of Ballard Spahr, the Maryland Attorney General exacted an agreement from the Calvert Sheriff that avoided costly litigation for the taxpayers in providing the public records sought by this newspaper. The release of the DUI records on a regular basis was a continuation of a policy established by Calvert Sheriff Lawrence D. “Bootsie” Stinnett in 1992 and continued by every Sheriff in Calvert since, including Sheriff Evans.

Sheriff Mike Evans finally responds, and now has been blocked on THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY Facebook page to minimize his harrassment. Sheriff Evans is free to correspond with his views on his letterhead with his signature to newsdesk.thechesapeaketoday@gmail.com

Facebook-comment-from-Sheriff-Mike-Evans-on-March-9-2022

FBI probed allegations of Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans snaring and sharing prescription drugs from Asbury senior center in Solomon’s

Calvert Sheriff blocks release of DUI records

Dave McDowell tries to outflank the Maryland Public Information Act, admits illegal act in letter to nation’s top First Amendment law firm

THE OUTCOME: The request below is the result of the negotiations between Ballard Spahr on behalf of THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY , the Attorney General of Maryland, and the Calvert Sheriff to provide monthly DUI arrest records

March 2, 2022

Lt. Col. Dave McDowell

Assistant Sheriff of Calvert County

30 Church Street

Prince Frederick, MD 20678

mcdowepd@co.cal.md.us

Re:      Monthly MPIA Request for Records of DWI Arrests

Dear Lieutenant Colonel McDowell:

Pursuant to the Maryland Public Information Act (“MPIA”), Md. Code Ann. G.P. §§ 4-101, et seq., I hereby request copies of records of all DWI arrests by the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office from the month prior to the date of this request, reflecting the (1) name of the arrestee; (2) age of the arrestee; (3) residence of the arrestee (i.e., name of the town or city); (4) date and time of the arrest; and (5) name of the arresting officer.  Please exclude from this request records where the arrestee was a juvenile at the time of arrest.

Pursuant to MPIA § 4-205(c)(1), I further request that these records be made available to me in a searchable and analyzable electronic format.

The MPIA provides for waiver of search, processing, and production fees where such a waiver “would be in the public interest.”  See MPIA § 4-206(e)(2)(ii).  I am a journalist for The Chesapeake Today and intend to use this information for upcoming news reporting to the public.  I therefore ask that you waive all fees in connection with this request.  See Baltimore v. Burke, 67 Md. App. 147, 157 (1986) (noting “the danger that imposing a fee for information upon a newspaper publisher might have a chilling effect on free exercise of freedom of the press”).     

If you reasonably believe that it will take more than 10 working days to produce these records, please notify me, via email, within 10 working days of receiving this request, and provide (1) the amount of time that you anticipate it will take to produce these records, and (2) the reason for the delay.  See MPIA § 4-203(b)(2).

If you have any questions regarding this request, I would appreciate your communicating with me by email at ken.thechesapeake@gmail.com, rather than by regular mail. 

I look forward to receiving these records within 30 days, as required by law.  See MPIA § 4-203(b)(1).  Thank you for your anticipated cooperation with this request.

Sincerely,

Ken Rossignol
The Chesapeake Today

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