Michael A. Sawyers
After further review, the call on the field
does not stand.
The field I am talking about is the Cumberland
Times-News and the call is the way we
report violations of hunting and fishing regulations
that are alleged to have
taken place in Maryland.
The Maryland Natural
Resources Police is being
very thorough in making us
aware of violations. They
range from fishing without a
license to baiting bears to
having a salmon egg in your
pocket on a stream where
that is a no-no.
From having covered
these sorts of incidents for
many years, we know that
some people are found guilty and some are
found not guilty. Other cases are nolle
prossed, which means they pretty much
become moot. Some are put on the stet docket,
with kind of the same result.
In addition, some cases are postponed or
rescheduled. That makes following the bouncing
ball a bit more difficult.
All of this, of course, requires a great deal of
attention from a reporter if a case is going to
be followed to conclusion.
Candus Thomson, who became NRP’s public
information officer in September, tells me
that she makes public all the charges for our
newspaper’s coverage area.
By reading the charges from the most
recent bear hunting season, I can see that
NRP plays no favorites.
The managing editor wants to continue
reporting certain high profile charges. The
bear hunting violations would be among those.
I can’t tell you right now what some of the
others would be, but we’ll know them when we
But here’s the deal. You can follow all cases
yourself, as long as you have access to the
To find out if somebody has been charged,
inspect, on a regular basis, the website of the
Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Go to www.dnr.state.md.us and look at the
upper left portion of the page. Click on “Press
Releases & News.”
That is where you will find out who was
charged with what and in which county it took
Now that you have the accused’s name, go
to the web site of the Maryland Judiciary Case
It might be easier to simply use a search
engine, which will pop up the page and you
can bookmark it.
Once you click on the box that you understand
the terms and conditions, click “continue”
and you can type in the accused’s name
and the county. Under “party type” choose
You can follow the case to the bitter end, or
sweet end, however it turns out. You can
choose to attend a trial if one takes place, usually
in district court.
There is one other step you can take. These
charges are public information.
If you take the case number from the Internet
site, you can visit the district court in the
appropriate county and ask to see the file.
You will have to provide proof of your identity
and your name will be included in the file as
having looked at it.
Sometimes the enforcement officer completes
a charging document with ample detail,
but other times you can draw a blank in that
When it comes to hunting and fishing violations
in West Virginia, we have received press
releases about those rather sparingly over the
years, and usually only when severe violations
have been alleged.
If there is a judiciary case search website in
the Mountain State similar to the one in Maryland,
I am not aware of it.
Mike Sawyers is outdoor editor of the Cumberland Times-
News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.