NAACP Sees Win in Court Ruling on Race Profiling

Andrea F. Siegel, Baltimore Sun, February 3, 2010

The state’s second-highest court handed the NAACP a victory Tuesday in the long-running “driving while black” issue, ordering the Maryland State Police to turn over records showing how the department dealt with complaints of racial profiling by its troopers.

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None of the 100 complaints of racial profiling over five years had been upheld in state police internal investigations, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which also is involved in the case.

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The Maryland attorney general’s office will decide whether to appeal to the state’s top court after reviewing the ruling.

Assistant Attorney General David R. Moore said Tuesday that the ruling interprets what constitutes personnel records under the Public Information Act and can be cited as precedent.

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The decision overturned part of a ruling by a Baltimore County judge, who said the records sought were personnel documents. But it left intact the end result: NAACP lawyers can have the documents but with the names of troopers redacted.

The background of the case stretches back nearly two decades.

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The ACLU contends that the racial breakdown of drivers stopped from 2003 to 2008 was about the same as it was in 2002: Minorities were targeted in 70 percent of the stops, and 45 percent of the drivers were black. Troopers found drugs on minorities no more frequently than on white drivers, the ACLU says.

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