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Legislation Eliminating 'Gag Orders' In Settlements With Baltimore City Takes Effect

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The new year means a number of new laws have taken effect in Baltimore, among them legislation eliminating "gag orders" for those who reach a settlement with the city.

Baltimore will no longer be allowed to prevent anyone who has won a settlement against the city from sharing the details of the agreement after legislation passed through the city council last year.


Those who win financial settlements in civil cases will now be free to speak about the cases without fear the city could take back some of the money.

The "gag orders" gained significant attention in police brutality cases in which alleged victims had to choose between settling or revealing what officers allegedly did to them.

"This is a big victory for 2020," said Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West died in police custody in 2013.

Last fall, she pushed lawmakers to change the requirement and succeeded.

"It's very important. It's very important for victims to be able to speak their truth," she said.

Despite Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young signing an executive order barring the use of gag orders in police settlements, he did not sign the bill approved by the council, instead allowing it to become law without his signature.

"It is law, and I don't speak for the mayor and I am not here to talk about the mayor or talk for the mayor but the fact is this is the law and it going to be complied with," Deputy City Solicitor Dana Moore said.

Moore said citizens no longer have to be afraid of consequences if they reveal details about their settlements.

"No one is going to lose their settlement because they talk about the basis of their settlement," she said.

The city will also not enforce gag orders in previous settlements and will be required to review settlements from the past five years and share details from those cases with the public.

A spokesperson for Young's office declined to comment for this story.

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