Baltimore residents who settle lawsuits alleging police brutality or other misconduct must agree to an unusual stipulation that they keep silent about the incidents that sparked the suits, reports the Baltimore Sun. The clause specifically prohibits plaintiffs from discussing their case with the news media, except to say that the suit has been settled. Those that disobey the secrecy pact can face attempts by the city to recoup settlement money.
Many other cities, including Washington, Philadelphia and Las Vegas, have rejected the use of such confidentiality clauses. Baltimore’s standard settlement agreement drew criticism from defense lawyers and some city officials after it was highlighted in a Sun investigation revealing that the city spent $5.7 million on 102 court judgments and settlements for alleged police misconduct since 2011. Critics said the nondisparagement clause helped keep the scope of misconduct allegations from becoming widely known.