Breaking Developments in Police Oversight: Training Requirements Yes, Partially-Retired Judges No

The Police and Correctional Training Commissions (PCTC) and the Maryland Judicial Ethics Committee have released guidance further shaping how counties implement the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021. Both rulings will pose additional challenges to counties’ ability to fulfill these broad, mandated requirements.

In a letter to county leadership dated Monday, July 25th, PCTC discussed how it will administer a recently approved 40-hour training for members of county Administrative Charging Committees (ACCs), a requirement of the Maryland Police Accountability Act. For each county, the training will occur on “5 consecutive 8-hour days (Monday through Friday)” and cover “police procedures utilizing lecture, case studies, and situational based learning.” Training is to commence once ACC members are identified across the state.

Also on Monday, July 25th, the Maryland Judicial Ethics Committee released an opinion specifying trial boards, who hear complaint appeals as a part of the Police Accountability Act, may only include non-active, fully retired judges as opposed to semi-retired Senior Judges. Among the Committee’s greatest concerns was whether a senior judge could remain impartial while serving on a trial board:

In our view, a Senior Judge’s participation as a member, and chair, of the trial board could appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s impartiality in cases involving police officers and could lead to possible disqualification in such cases. Accordingly, we conclude that a Senior Judge may not serve on a police discipline trial board because it would violate the Code.

The opinion further limits the pool of available judges capable of sitting on county Police Accountability Boards (PABs) and trial boards, increasing concerns among county officials seeking to fill vacant retired judge positions on their boards.

On June 24th, just prior to the Police Accountability Act’s effective date of July 1st, PCTC released its much-anticipated regulations regarding ACCs and PABs, as well as the police disciplinary matrix.

Read the full Police and Correctional Training Commissions letter.

Read the full Maryland Judicial Ethics Committee opinion.