Man sues Howard, claims release of data was illegal

Incorrect information hurt his chance to become state trooper, he says

May 13, 1999|By Del Wilber | Del Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Randallstown man who tried to join the Maryland State Police is suing Howard County officials because, he claims, they illegally released incorrect juvenile arrest information to state police recruiters.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Clayton M. Queen says Howard County police told state police recruiters that Queen allegedly committed drug-selling offenses in 1989, when he was a juvenile.

That information was incorrect -- Queen has no criminal record as an adult or juvenile, he says -- and should not have been released under Maryland law.

Howard County officials agreed.

In a letter to the state police, Lorrita R. Matthews, supervisor of the county police records unit, wrote: "It has been determined that the drug related information regarding Mr. Clayton M. Queen was inadvertently entered into the computer as a result of a report misnumbering. Mr. Queen has no record of drug related offenses as a Juvenile in Howard County."

Matthews also wrote that Howard County police should not have released the juvenile information.

In January 1998, Queen applied to become a state trooper. Five months later, state police told him that Howard County officials released records showing he committed a drug offense in 1989.

Though Queen disputed that claim and Howard County officials clarified the mix-up, state police used that information to reject his application, the suit claims.

Queen's attorney tried to settle a claim in November. In a letter to then-County Executive Charles I. Ecker, Queen's attorney wrote: "The investigators became decidedly suspicious regarding my client's background and did not seem to believe his claims that the charges were false."

Queen's attorney declined to comment yesterday.

F. Todd Taylor, a senior assistant Howard County solicitor, said Queen was not rejected because of the Howard County error. He also said he welcomed the lawsuit.

"By suing us, he has provided the forum where everything will come out," Taylor said.

Capt. Greg Shipley of the state police said, "It would be inappropriate to discuss" the case.

Queen is seeking $300,000 in damages.

Pub Date: 5/13/99

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