Kansas committee changes records bill

Photo Credit: Courtesy: Kennebec Valley Community College
Photo Credit: Courtesy: Kennebec Valley Community College

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas Senate committee has substantially changed a measure that originally sought to make it easier for the public to get documents used to justify police searches and arrests.

As originally written, individuals whose homes are searched would have 30 days to request documentation explaining the reason for the search. Kansas is one of the few states that seal probable-cause affidavits. Neighboring Missouri does not.

The measure passed the House 113-10, but in the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Greg Smith, R-Olathe, on Thursday came up with amendments that would separate out the arrest warrant affidavits and continue to seal them as in current law. The search warrant information would be made available immediately to those whose property is searched at the time of the search, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1dwu0Ie ).

Anyone wanting to view the documents could petition the court clerk for the information 14 days after the search warrant was executed. Prosecutors and police would have seven days to file an objection to the release.

“I’m quite happy with current law. This amendment is an attempt to appease both sides,” Smith said. “Both sides probably aren’t going to be happy about it, so that probably means it’s good law.”

Prosecutors have raised concerns that opening the records could jeopardize the safety and privacy of victims and witnesses. The bill was amended earlier to allow prosecutors to seek to have the records sealed or redacted in such instances.

Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, who sponsored the original bill, said Thursday he’ll try to secure a place on a House-Senate conference committee to debate the changes made Thursday.

“I continue to disagree with the position that prosecutors and law enforcement in Kansas are different than the prosecutors and law enforcement in other states that do not have these problems,” Rubin said.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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