Maryland's American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued Anne Arundel County, its police department and County Executive John Leopold for refusing to turn over files allegedly compiled by county police against Leopold's "enemies."
"The facts are clear that Anne Arundel County Executive Leopold ordered his executive detail and other county employees to try to dig up dirt on those he perceived as political rivals, as well as women who complained that he harassed or discriminated against them," said Deborah Jeon, legal director for Maryland's ACLU in a statement. "The time has come for Mr. Leopold and the County to come clean about how, why, and against whom these illegal activities were carried out."
The news of this lawsuit was first reported by The Capital.
An Anne Arundel County grand jury indicted Leopold on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary in March 2012.
The state prosecutor's office alleges that Leopold used police officers to compile "dossiers" on his political opponents, drive him around the county to remove his opponent's campaign signs in 2010 and drive him to parking lots to meet women for sexual encounters.
Leopold is set to stand trial for these accusations in Circuit Court in January 2013.
About a week after the news of Pasadena Republican's indictment broke, the ALCU filed the first of five public information requests in which it asked to see all the dossiers.
County police initially released three files: one on Carl Snowden, the civil rights director for Attorney General Douglas Gansler, one on Thomas Redmond, a former county councilman, and one on Joanna Conti, a Democrat who ran for county executive against Leopold in 2010.
The ALCU claims that the county then stopped sharing its information.
"[The] plaintiffs have filed this lawsuit based on both the defendant's improper compilation of these dossiers and the defendant's improper denials of plantiffs' repeated requests for information under the MPIA," according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs in this lawsuit include Snowden and Redmond as well as eight others: Jacqueline Allsup, Lewis Bracy, Karla Hamner, Joan Harris, Marvenise Harris, Eugene Peterson, Eric Scott, John Singleton and Mike Shay.
The ALCU disputes the claim made by the police department that further records cannot be released because they are evidence in the ongoing criminal prosecution of Leopold.
Their premise is that even if these records are evidence they do not qualify as "investigatory records" because they were illegally compiled. The officers who compiled Leopold's dossiers allegedly used a statewide criminal history database, which Maryland only grants access to for official law enforcement purposes.
Get local stories delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.