PIACB Again Rules in Favor of A Miner Detail

The Public Information Act Compliance Board (PIACB) ruled in favor of A Miner Detail concerning a public record dispute.

With this ruling, A Miner Detail (and its readers) have won three public record disputes.

Two went before the PIACB, and one was settled with Frederick City after a lawsuit was filed in Circuit Court.

A Miner Detail has one pending public record dispute working through the PIACB and Howard County Circuit Court.

What Did A Miner Ask For?

On April 5th, 2023, A Miner Detail submitted a Public Information Act (PIA) request to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

We requested copies of all the “law letters” or “demonstration letters” signed by Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins in 2015.

According to the response, nine such letters were created and signed.

However, Jenkins and Robert Krop were only indicted for five letters.

Denial of Records

Jenkins refused to turn over copies of the nine “law letters” he signed, claiming that their disclosure contradicted federal law.

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown and his employee Kristin Lustilla intervened on behalf of Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.

A Miner Detail could not confirm how involved Attorney General Anthony Brown has been in the defense of Sheriff Jenkins.

Appeal to the Maryland Public Information Act Compliance Board 

A Miner Detail appealed the denial of records to the PIA Compliance Board.

A recent legislative creation, this board initially could only change the cost of a PIA request.

However, the statute was modified two years ago, and the PIA Compliance Board now adjudicates denial of records.

PIACB Decision

You can read the PIACB’s decision here.

The PIACB concluded:

The FCSO violated the PIA by withholding the nine “law letters” responsive to the complainant’s PIA request.

Those records in and of themselves do not constitute information that a federal firearms licensee is required to keep under 18 U.S.C.A. § 923(g) and the regulations issued under that provision, and the non-disclosure provisions of the Tiahrt Amendment therefore do not apply.

Thus, because inspection of the “law letters” would not be “contrary to” that federal law, § 4-301(a)(2)(ii) does not require the FCSO to deny inspection. Accordingly, we direct the FCSO to disclose the nine “law letters” responsive to the complainant’s PIA request to the complainant.

Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Still Refusing to Transmit The Records

Despite issuing this binding directive, Jenkins still refuses to turn over the requested records.

A Miner Detail has not received the records or any communication from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office or Attorney General Anthony Brown.

A talking point in Robert Krop’s motions in the case is that the prosecution is politically motivated.

If true, that would mean other FFLs that acquired post-1986 automatic weapons through a “law letter” or “demonstration letter” were not prosecuted due to their political beliefs.

Presently, A Miner Detail is submitting public information requests to all 109 law enforcement agencies in Maryland.

About the Author

Eric Beasley
After a year fighting bears and chopping wood in the forest, a Cancer has emerged in Frederick County. The only way to kill Cancer is with fire, and casting a ballot.