Council Member Will Jawando Credit: File photo

A bill to shed more light on lawsuit settlements involving the Montgomery County government came before the County Council on Tuesday.

Council Member Will Jawando has sponsored a bill that would require the county attorney to report annually to the County Council and county executive the following about settlements involving any county office or division:

  • Which county division was involved, and who filed the lawsuit
  • The settlement amount
  • What the lawsuit was about

In an interview, Jawando said his legislation is related to two police-related bills he and Council President Tom Hucker sponsored this week.

Hucker’s bill requires body cameras for all uniformed police officers and other transparency measures. Jawando’s other bill calls for a five-week, 30-hour mandatory police training course focusing on subjects like racial equity, listening and conflict resolution.

The settlement bill is an important tool to help county officials and residents understand when taxpayer money is used to pay settlements across all county departments and divisions, not just when police are involved, Jawando said.

Still, examples that Jawando gave of lawsuits involved police:

  • In January 2020, officers harassed and berated a 5-year-old boy who had walked away from East Silver Spring Elementary School. A video shows that one officer grabbed him, took him back to school and put him in handcuffs. Another officer stood inches from the boy’s face and yelled at him. The family is suing the county and the school district.
  • A lawsuit filed against county police by the Palma family, who live in Wheaton. Hernan and Lilian Palma allege that police assaulted them, handcuffed them and their daughter, held them at gunpoint and damaged their home during a no-knock warrant raid in September 2019. Officers were investigating whether a young woman sometimes at the home had controlled substances or illegally possessed a firearm. Hernan, who is a county firefighter, and other plaintiffs question both the use of the warrant and also claim the use of force was excessive. They are seeking more than $1 million in damages.
  • A Silver Spring man is suing county police after an officer kneed him in the back of the head and neck during an arrest near an Aspen Hill McDonald’s in July 2019. Arnaldo Pesoa alleged Officer Kevin Moris used excessive force. Moris was convicted by a jury of second-degree assault, but a judge later vacated the conviction.

Jawando said it took about a year before the County Council got a report on the East Silver Spring Elementary case. He argued that his bill would prevent that from occurring again.

“If it took us a year to find out about something like this, that’s so severe, then what do we not know?” he said.

Hucker, a co-sponsor, agreed with Jawando, emphasizing the potential financial impact to the county.


“Those of us who are charged with power of the purse … we need to know what kind of risk we’re managing,” Hucker said in an interview. “And if the behavior we’re having is allowing our county to lose millions of dollars, of course we should know about significant lawsuits.”

Lee Holland, corporation vice president for Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 — the county’s police union — mostly supports the bill. Holland said county residents deserve to see how much of their tax dollars are used in settlements.

But Holland feared the bill could make police officers a target unless all county employees involved are named in corresponding settlement agreements.


Jawando’s bill on lawsuit settlements now heads to the council’s government operations committee for review.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at