Lawmakers Hear Case For Opening Search Warrants

By: WIBW (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: WIBW (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

The House Judiciary Committee heard a personal story Wednesday on why search warrants and probable cause affidavits should be open records.

Robert and Adlynn Harte of Leawood described to the committee how their home was raided in April 2012 for suspected drug activity. They said nothing illegal was found and it took them a year and thousands of dollars in court costs to find out why their home was targeted.

The reason? Robert said he visited a hydroponics store with his children to buy equipment for a science in growing plants and he says authorities found some leaves in their trash, which tested negative as marijuana and were likely tea leaves.

Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, says the Harte's story illustrates why search warrants and probable cause affidavits should be open records. He introduced a bill for that to happen.

The Kansas Association of Broadcasters is among those supporting the measure.

However, Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson was among those speaking against the measure. He says the documents are only a snapshot of what authorities believe at a point in time and may not present the full picture of a situation. In addition, he says they may contain sensitive information and authorities would be dependent on the discretion of the recipient of the document in deciding what to disclose.

The committee took no action Wednesday.


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