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Maryland Court Hears Racial Profiling Case

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The state of Maryland has settled several lawsuits alleging racial profiling by police over the past two decades. But the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union say disparities persist.

For every 100 whites stopped and searched on I-95 in MD, there are 300 to 400 blacks stopped and searched, even though blacks are no more likely than whites to have drugs or contraband. As a result, the NAACP and ACLU want the records of citizen complaints alleging racial profiling by state troopers.

Robert Wilkins is an attorney for NAACP and ACLU.
"One hundred complaints of racial profiling have been made since 2003 and Maryland State Police has found zero of them to be sustained," says Wilkins. "We are asking a basic question, which is why are the citizens zero for 100 when they make a complaint against State Police."

Wilkins says people are asked to simply trust that the state properly investigated. But the State of Maryland argues that the documents are the private personnel records of state troopers and are protected by law.

"It's a loss of the privacy protection that the legislature has determined is appropriate for personnel records," says David Moore, assistant attorney general of Maryland.

Moore argues that state law clearly prohibits releasing those types of documents and doing so would set a dangerous precedent that would affect other personal information that the legislature has sought to protect, from welfare records to education records.

A lower court ruled that the records could be released if personal information was redacted. The state is appealing that ruling, arguing even redacted personal documents can't be released.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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