Thursday, November 27, 2014

Legislation opening affidavits passes

By The Herald Staff | 5/5/2014

TOPEKA — A bill aimed at opening affidavits for search warrants to the public will become law if Gov. Sam Brownback signs the legislation that passed the House and Senate with little voting opposition.

House Bill 2555 will allow for probable cause affidavits used to justify arrest warrants to be public record after a short period to allow judges to approve prosecutor-proposed redactions of confidential information, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and the names of undercover officers or informants, according to a release from the Kansas Press Association, which backed the measure.

TOPEKA — A bill aimed at opening affidavits for search warrants to the public will become law if Gov. Sam Brownback signs the legislation that passed the House and Senate with little voting opposition.

House Bill 2555 will allow for probable cause affidavits used to justify arrest warrants to be public record after a short period to allow judges to approve prosecutor-proposed redactions of confidential information, Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and the names of undercover officers or informants, according to a release from the Kansas Press Association, which backed the measure.

The passing of the bill is a great step for open government, Doug Anstaett, KPA executive director, said.

“The citizens of our state can now know more about what law enforcement and prosecutors are doing when arrests take place,” he said.

“That we ended up with such an overwhelming vote in favor shows that when the chips are down, and when the case is strongly made, transparency will win out,” Anstaett added.

The legislation was led by state Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, who “was a real bulldog for this legislation and never gave up,” Anstaett said. It also was pushed forward by the testimonies of Adlynn and Robert Harte, two former CIA agents who were the subjects of a botched drug raid in Leawood.

“This isn’t the America I grew up in,” Robert Harte said at one of the hearings for the bill.

His wife added: “If something like this can happen to us, it can happen to anybody.”

Richard Gannon, KPA director of government affairs, said he enthusiastically accepted the passage of the bill after anticipating the measure to fail in 2014 and needing to be brought up again in 2015.

“On several occasions, Rep. John Rubin and I contemplated strategy with limited options,” Gannon said in a release. “At one point in the process, matters were so dire he and I discussed strategy for next session. However, many supporters of open government joined our initiative and, after capitalizing on procedural opportunities, we were rewarded with success.”

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