Governor Vetoes Bill Restricting Access to Criminal Court Records
August 28, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sean Parnell today vetoed legislation that would have restricted public access to criminal court records.
“The provisions in Senate Bill 108 attempted to solve a complex issue that requires striking the right balance between open and transparent criminal court proceedings, the rights of crime victims, and the rights of persons who have been accused, but never convicted, of a crime,” Governor Parnell said. “Unfortunately, the legislation summarily swept all such cases under the cloak of confidentiality in an unnecessarily broad manner, without respect to likely adverse impacts on the public. In my view, the legislation unnecessarily restricted access to criminal court records, which would have adversely affected the ability of Alaskans to protect themselves and to hold their judicial system accountable. Additionally, the proposed law would be vulnerable to legal challenge.”
In his decision, Governor Parnell pointed to a newly amended Alaska Court rule adopted to better protect Alaskans’ privacy and reputational interests.
The Alaska Court rule, as amended, provides that those arrested under the following circumstances will no longer have that record visible in the electronically searchable CourtView database:
- Persons arrested but not charged;
- Persons charged but counts are dismissed for lack of probable cause or an identity error;
- Minors wrongly charged in adult court;
- Persons who have applications for protective orders filed against them that are dismissed at or before the initial hearing on an ex parte petition for lack of probable cause or insufficient evidence.
“Alaskans will no longer have their names on an easily searchable public database due to a minor brush with the law that resulted in no charges, or instances in which a person is the target of a baseless request for a protective order by a disgruntled ex-partner,” Governor Parnell added.
The governor pledged to work with the Alaska Legislature and the court system to provide a more targeted and balanced approach that adequately protects all of the public’s interests.
The transmittal letters are available at: