Expert: Amended Judicial Transparency Bill Creates ‘As Much Transparency As A Brick Wall’

On Fox 45 News

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) — The mad dash to midnight on the final day of the 2022 legislative session in Annapolis ended with one of the final votes ushering through a portion of Gov. Larry Hogan’s anti-crime priority proposals.

The Judicial Transparency Act, originally introduced by the term-limited Republican governor as an emergency piece of legislation that would publish sentencing data with judge’s names included, was amended throughout the 90-day session.

Eventually, the bill was amended, eliminating the emergency aspect of the legislation, and stripped the judge’s names out of the language; now, the sentencing data will be published based on jurisdiction. The language was rolled into another bill during the final minutes of the session and passed on the floor of the House of Delegates.

“Without looking at specific judges, you will get a better sense of what’s working and what’s not in different parts of the state,” said Del. Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore City, and chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “If you have that certainty, and you know that no matter where you are in the state, the sentence is going to be the same, that is what works.”

While not exactly as intended, Hogan has called the plan a step in the right direction.

However, Sean Kennedy, a visiting fellow at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, argued the changes made to the legislation rendered the transparency push anything but that, given the sentencing data won’t be accessible with judge’s names.

“It boggles the mind to think they have the right to do this. They got a hold of a number of allies in Annapolis and watered this bill down,” Kennedy said. “The judiciary and prosecutors never wanted anyone to know that they are no good at their jobs.”

“They are saying, we don’t want you to know. Like the wizard of oz, don’t look behind the curtain. Pay no attention to the man,” he added. “That’s effectively what they are doing but they are hiding behind closed courtrooms and their robes. If they have nothing to hide, why hide it?”

Kennedy argued the change to the plan allows everyone to hail it as a win, noting the plans did make it through, just not exactly as Hogan intended.

“There is no impetus by the public to change anything because these politicians who were obscuring this and have something to point to and say, ‘Oh I improved the system, I made it better,’ when in fact they just move the ball down the road,” Kennedy said. “This creates about as much transparency as a brick wall.”

If signed into law, the plan would take effect Oct. 1, 2022.

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