On December 22, 2022, Venable client the Baltimore Banner, an independent news website in Baltimore, filed a lawsuit in the Baltimore Circuit Court against the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for improperly denying access to key portions of autopsy reports that are public records under state law. The 18-page complaint asks a judge to declare that the office has violated the Maryland Public Information Act, order the timely release of the complete autopsy reports in an electronic format, and award costs, including attorney fees, to the Baltimore Banner.
For more than three months, the Baltimore Banner has been seeking autopsy records, including toxicology reports from the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, to help inform Maryland citizens about the extent of the opioid crisis in the state. However, the medical examiner’s office routinely failed to provide access to critical portions of the publicly available reports in a timely manner.
“These documents are critical to helping us understand and report on the opioid epidemic, which is a public health crisis that’s claiming thousands of lives each year in Maryland,” said Kimi Yoshino, the Banner’s editor in chief. “These are not classified state secrets. We’re asking for basic public information that has been routinely provided to the public for years.”