For decades, Maryland law has required that the invocation of spousal privilege in domestic violence cases be especially noted and recorded by the court clerk (Md. Courts and Judicial Proceedings 9-106)
(b) Record of assertion; expungement.-
(1) If the spouse of a person on trial for assault in any degree in which the spouse was a victim is sworn to testify at the trial and refuses to testify on the basis of the provisions of this section, the clerk of the court shall make and maintain a record of that refusal, including the name of the spouse refusing to testify.
(2) When an expungement order is presented to the clerk of the court in a case involving a charge of assault in any degree, the clerk shall check the record to determine whether the defendant’s spouse refused to testify on the basis of the provisions of this section.
(3) If the record shows such refusal, the clerk shall make and maintain a separate record of the refusal, including the defendant’s name, the spouse’s name, the case file number, a copy of the charging document, and the date of the trial in which the spouse refused to testify.
(4) The separate record specified under paragraph (3) of this subsection:
(i) Is not subject to expungement under Title 10, Subtitle 1 of the Criminal Procedure Article; and
(ii) Shall be available only to the court, a State’s Attorney’s office, and an attorney for the defendant.
Two Maryland bills (HB 1169 and SB 919) would require the record of refusal be sent to the Administrative Office of the Courts to maintain a central registry. Access to the individual record would be limited to the court, a State’s Attorney’s office, an attorney for the defendant, the spouse, and the defendant. Access to statistical data from the registry would be limited to “an organization that conducts research or provides services related to domestic violence…for research, evaluation, and statistical analysis…[and]…may not contain any unique identifying information, including names, record numbers, or case file numbers.”
HB 1169 is set for a House Judiciary Committee hearing on 3/17. No word yet on any hearings for the Senate version.