MARYLAND

Court Backs Doctors on Confidentiality

A Montgomery County doctor's office acted legally when it refused to turn over the names of some psychiatric patients for a police investigation into a hate crime last summer, a Maryland appeals court ruled yesterday.

Though patients' records are generally confidential under Maryland law, doctors also must comply with subpoenas pertaining to law enforcement investigations.

But the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled yesterday that the Shady Grove Psychiatric Group was not subject to a June 1998 subpoena because police did not specify how the group would keep the patients' information confidential, as Maryland law requires.

Montgomery police investigating a hate crime that had occurred near the doctor's office obtained a subpoena for the names of patients who had visited the office within a two-hour period that day. The subpoena also asked for the patients' addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and appointment history for the previous six months.

Burning Restrictions Lifted in West

Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) lifted the ban on open-air burning in Western Maryland yesterday after recent heavy rains reduced the risk of wildfires. On Sept. 1, Glendening had lifted statewide open-air burning restrictions and water-use prohibitions.

The lifting of restrictions came after the remnants of Hurricane Dennis dumped water on the region. Although Maryland remains in a drought emergency, reductions in water use are now voluntary.

The heavy rains reduced the region's rainfall deficit to only eight inches--it had been at more than 12 inches when water restrictions were first put in place.

Water consumption increased during the week ending Sept. 4 with the lifting of restrictions. Although it was still 10 percent below the five-year average, the previous week under mandatory restrictions had seen a 16 percent drop, the governor's office reported.

VIRGINIA

Center for Missing Children Dedicated

Dedication ceremonies were held yesterday for the new headquarters building of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, intended as the "nerve center" of the search for missing and exploited children.

The renovated eight-story structure at Prince and Washington streets has been named the Charles B. Wang International Children's Building, honoring the chairman and chief executive of Computer Associates International, who donated $5 million to the center.

"This a building of hope," said John Walsh, a missing children's advocate and host of TV's "America's Most Wanted." Walsh, who along with his wife, Reve, helped cut the ribbon, became emotional as he relayed how his 6-year-old son, Adam, was abducted from a Florida shopping mall and murdered in 1981, a time when "there was no hot line, there was no help."

Among those at the dedication were retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and Daniel M. Snyder, the new owner of the Washington Redskins.

Group Wants Street Named for Hemings

Charlottesville, the home town of Thomas Jefferson, is being asked to name a street for Sally Hemings, a slave who may have given birth to at least one child by Jefferson.

During his presidency in the early 1800s, Jefferson was accused publicly of fathering several of Hemings's children after his wife died. In November, a DNA study showed it was likely that Jefferson was the father of Eston Hemings, Sally Hemings's youngest son.

The Fifeville Neighborhood Association proposed that the City Council name a downtown street after Hemings. The council plans to consider the proposal Sept. 20.

"I think people are hungering to see a more real and full view of American history here and in other places as well," said Charlottesville Mayor Virginia Daugherty. "I think it won't be that upsetting at this point. I think people don't view it any more as a scandal but as, 'This is the facts, ma'am.' "

U.S. Sides With Highway Inspectors

The Clinton administration is siding with Virginia highway inspectors who contend in a lawsuit that the state owes them millions of dollars in overtime pay.

The U.S. Labor Department's intervention in the case comes as Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) fends off legislative election-year criticism from Democrats that a staff crunch is contributing to delays in road construction.

Construction inspectors seeking about $7 million in overtime, penalties and lawyers' fees from the Virginia Department of Transportation were dealt a setback in June when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Maine case that states were protected against lawsuits over workplace issues.

An attorney for the plaintiffs then urged the U.S. Labor Department, which was unaffected by the ruling, to join the case, and federal attorneys filed briefs last week in Richmond Circuit Court and the Virginia Supreme Court.

"It's an odd move by the federal government to file papers in a proceeding with the Virginia Supreme Court, which hasn't even decided to review it," said David B. Botkins, spokesman for Attorney General Mark L. Earley (R).

THE REGION

Disabled Red Line Train Causes Delays

Travelers on the Shady Grove branch of Metrorail's Red Line experienced delays during yesterday's morning rush hour after all trains were forced to run along a single track between the Twinbrook and Medical Center stations.

Transit officials took the second track out of service after a disabled train, which was being moved toward a rail yard overnight, became stuck, Metro spokesman Cheryl Johnson said. She said the train could not be removed from the main system because its motor had become dislodged.

Inbound and outbound trains were forced to use a single track from 5:30 a.m., when the system opened, until 10:40 a.m. The average train delay was 14 minutes, though individual travelers may have had to wait longer, Johnson said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It won't take kids long to figure out the right answers. The kids will soon know to say: 'I'm 17, and getting medicine for my mother.' "

-- Mary Jane DeFrank, executive director of area chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, on the District's youth curfew, which her organization objects to on practical as well as constitutional grounds.