Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 120

03/23/2015 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 15(JUD) Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Scheduled but Not Heard
<Pending Referral>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
         HB  11-NO INTERNET ACCESS TO SOME CRIM. CASES                                                                      
1:56:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LEDOUX announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE  FOR HOUSE  BILL NO.  11, "An  Act restricting                                                               
the  publication of  certain  records of  criminal  cases on  the                                                               
Internet; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
1:56:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   TAMMIE   WILSON,   Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
explained  that CourtView  is available  on the  internet through                                                               
the  Alaska  Court System,  and  people  are clearly  advised  to                                                               
"please read all  of it."  She opined CourtView  can be confusing                                                               
as to whether a person is convicted  of a crime, what part of the                                                               
crime  they  are  convicted,  or  whether  the  person  is  found                                                               
innocent or guilty.  She further  explained that a bill last year                                                               
[Senate Bill  108] would  have taken the  data off  of CourtView,                                                               
and also taken away written  records located in the court clerk's                                                               
office.   She opined CSHB 15  represents that data should  not be                                                               
for all  to see as it  could interfere with a  person obtaining a                                                               
job or an  apartment.  CourtView could put doubt  in the public's                                                               
mind regarding the person's character.                                                                                          
1:59:41 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG noted  this bill  is similar  to Senate                                                               
Bill 108,  from the twenty-eighth  legislature, which  was vetoed                                                               
by Governor Sean Parnell.                                                                                                       
2:01:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN asked  whether she  had communicated  with                                                               
the  current   administration  for  its  opinion,   and  that  he                                                               
recognizes there are significant  issues around closing any court                                                               
records to public view, whether on line or in person.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  opined  that the  administration  was  in                                                               
favor of the  original bill, and she assumed that  taking out the                                                               
sealing portion would not cause  the administration to oppose the                                                               
bill.   When this  bill was  re-filed she  was approached  by the                                                               
Alaska Court  System and advised  they were willing to  take data                                                               
off of CourtView.   She opined that one of  the biggest issues is                                                               
[closing records  to public view]  and this bill allows  a person                                                               
to review  files at the  court clerk's  office.  She  pointed out                                                               
that  there  are  newspaper  articles   for  everything  and  the                                                               
internet is not just about CourtView.                                                                                           
2:03:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   LEDOUX  questioned   Representative  Wilson's   statement                                                               
regarding the availability  of the internet and  asked whether an                                                               
alleged  victim  would  be interested  enough  to  photocopy  the                                                               
records and put them on the internet themselves.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  explained that  when a person  is arrested                                                               
the data  goes up on CourtView,  and the public could  follow the                                                               
case  to the  end.   She further  explained that  in the  event a                                                               
person is  acquitted, 60 days later  the data is taken  down from                                                               
CourtView.   She indicated that a  report of crimes can  be found                                                               
on the internet via a  different venue than CourtView and related                                                               
that  when the  bill discusses  the internet  it is  solely about                                                               
2:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT recalled  an issue  with Senate  Bill 108                                                               
last year was  that the victim's advocacy  groups were interested                                                               
in still being  allowed access to those charged with  a crime and                                                               
had gone  through a plea  agreement.   She quiered if  the person                                                               
pleaded out  to a lesser charge  whether the case would  still be                                                               
on CourtView.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  responded that all of  the charges related                                                               
to the same case would be on CourtView.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  questioned whether Ms. Wilson  had talked                                                               
to the victim's advocacy groups about this bill.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  replied that the victim's  advocacy groups                                                               
received  HB   11  and   SSHB  11,   and  [the   groups]  advised                                                               
Representative Wilson that  they would get their  comments to her                                                               
and she has  yet to see anything in writing  other than that they                                                               
received the information.                                                                                                       
2:06:39 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 2:06 to 2:08 p.m.                                                                            
2:08:56 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY MEADE, General Counsel,  Office of Administrative Director,                                                               
Alaska Court  System, said she  is available to  answer questions                                                               
about the bill.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN  referred   to  Representative   Wilson's                                                               
comment that  after Governor  Parnell vetoed  the bill  last year                                                               
the Alaska  Court System made changes  regarding the availability                                                               
of  records.   He  asked  the status  of  the  changes, and  what                                                               
flexibility  the  Alaska  Court System  has  without  legislative                                                               
MS. MEADE  advised that the Alaska  Court System administratively                                                               
determined  categories  of  cases   that  should  not  appear  on                                                               
CourtView, even though the case  files are not confidential.  She                                                               
explained there is  an administrative rule that  lists case types                                                               
it  does  not feel  are  appropriate  for posting  on  CourtView.                                                               
Approximately  nine  months ago,  the  Alaska  Court System  took                                                               
steps to amend  the rule to remove from  CourtView criminal cases                                                               
that were  dismissed because  the prosecuting  authority declined                                                               
to file  a charging document,  criminal cases dismissed  for lack                                                               
of  probable  cause  under  Criminal   Rule  5D,  criminal  cases                                                               
dismissed for an  identity error and, she noted,  there are about                                                               
10-12 similar categories.   She described a  large category being                                                               
when a Petition  for Domestic Violence Protective  Order is filed                                                               
and during the Ex Parte  hearing the judicial officer finds there                                                               
is no probable cause to find  domestic violence, or there was not                                                               
a domestic  relationship.   The court realized  it could  be held                                                               
against  a respondent  even  though the  court  found, within  24                                                               
hours  of  the  hearing,  that  it  was  basically  an  unfounded                                                               
petition.  She advised that  those were removed from CourtView in                                                               
response to complaints of people  being undeservedly on CourtView                                                               
and the negative consequences they were suffering.                                                                              
2:11:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  asked, without  passing CSHB 15,  in terms                                                               
of  the court's  authority, how  much latitude  the court  has to                                                               
basically restrict  what is made  available on the internet.   He                                                               
further asked that  if the court is aware of  the issue of misuse                                                               
of court data, whether the legislature has to get involved.                                                                     
2:11:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MEADE offered  that the court has the authority  to put onto,                                                               
or  take off  of,  CourtView anything  that it  prefers.   It  is                                                               
within  the  court's purview  not  to  have CourtView  publically                                                               
available  to people  as it  is a  case management  system.   She                                                               
remarked  that  the court  could  decide  not  to post  cases  on                                                               
CourtView  and people  would  only be  allowed  to review  public                                                               
records at the  courthouse.  She highlighted that  the court does                                                               
have its  own public records law,  and it does believe  in public                                                               
access  to records.   She  offered  that the  legislature can  do                                                               
more, but the court did what it thought was appropriate.                                                                        
2:13:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LEDOUX   assessed  that  without  legislation   the  court                                                               
actually would have  the authority to not post any  of the issues                                                               
which are encompassed by the bill on CourtView.                                                                                 
MS. MEADE answered in the  affirmative, that the court could take                                                               
additional categories of cases down from CourtView.                                                                             
CHAIR  LEDOUX  questioned  the  court's  rationale  in  choosing,                                                               
without legislation, to continue  to post cases regarding someone                                                               
who has been completely acquitted.                                                                                              
MS. MEADE  said she will  be cautious in answering  that question                                                               
because  she  does not  predict  what  the Alaska  Supreme  Court                                                               
Justices are  thinking, but  they went  as far  as they  felt was                                                               
appropriate  administratively.    Since the  decision  to  remove                                                               
criminal cases  where someone  is acquitted  or dismissed  is, as                                                               
has  been seen,  somewhat  more  controversial.   It  is less  an                                                               
administrative function  and more a policy  decision that affects                                                               
Alaskans who  differ in their views  on this.  The  court was not                                                               
prepared  to take  the [policy]  step,  leaving it  more for  the                                                               
legislature as  the public wouldn't  necessarily know  to comment                                                               
on any administrative  decision.  She reiterated that  it is more                                                               
of  a policy  decision  for the  legislature than  administrative                                                               
type decision  for the  court.   The court could  do it,  but she                                                               
believes the above is the court's thinking as to why it did not.                                                                
MS. MEADE responded to Chair  LeDoux that the Alaska Court System                                                               
does not have a position on this bill, as they are neutral.                                                                     
2:15:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT asked the origin  of CourtView and why the                                                               
court  decided to  put its  case management  on the  internet for                                                               
public view.                                                                                                                    
2:15:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MEADE answered that CourtView  was purchased as an electronic                                                               
case  management  system  for  the benefit  of  court  staff  and                                                               
attorneys with  cases in  court.   She opined  that it  was never                                                               
intended to be a tool to  do a sideways criminal background check                                                               
on someone, and it is  not the official criminal background check                                                               
repository in  the State  of Alaska.   Originally, she  noted, it                                                               
was  intended to  be the  Alaska Court  System's case  management                                                               
system and described  it as not particularly user  friendly for a                                                               
member of the public.  It was put  online as a help to the public                                                               
and to  attorneys, but in  recent times  the thinking is  that it                                                               
has been abused  by some people with  improper conclusions drawn.                                                               
There is a warning at the  initial screen when a person logs onto                                                               
CourtView advising  people to  be careful  and not  draw improper                                                               
conclusions, she remarked.                                                                                                      
2:17:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT  questioned   whether  there   had  been                                                               
complaints from the public  about misinformation and inaccuracies                                                               
on  CourtView,  as   there  has  been  misuse   in  performing  a                                                               
background  check or  checking out  neighbors.   She offered  the                                                               
scenario of  filing a domestic  violence complaint  against Chair                                                               
LeDoux  and making  the  case  that because  they  live in  close                                                               
proximity of  each other, "I  fear her."   She stated  the action                                                               
itself  would  appear   on  CourtView  whether  or   not  it  was                                                               
dismissed,  as  it would  show  Representative  Millett filing  a                                                               
protective order against Chair LeDoux.                                                                                          
MS. MEADE  posited that she  does not hear complaints  that there                                                               
are  inaccuracies on  CourtView as  her  staff is  quite good  at                                                               
entering the  data, but people  do look  at it and  draw improper                                                               
conclusions  because, perhaps,  they  do not  understand what  it                                                               
says.  She clarified that  CourtView includes every document that                                                               
is filed  in a  case as it  is the docket  sheet relating  to the                                                               
Alaska   Court   System.     She   explained,   with  regard   to                                                               
Representative Millett's scenario, in  all likelihood it would be                                                               
found,  at the  initial hearing,  to be  unfounded and  under the                                                               
court's  administrative rule  would  be  removed from  CourtView.                                                               
She added  that it was one  of the adjustments the  court made on                                                               
its  own  in the  last  six-nine  months,  and offered  that  the                                                               
situation in itself was addressed by the court.                                                                                 
2:20:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  noted that  the veto message  of Senate                                                               
Bill 108,  last year,  contains discussions  of many  issues that                                                               
merit close attention before making a  decision in this area.  He                                                               
asked whether there is a court rule on this subject.                                                                            
MS. MEADE answered, Administrative Rule 40A.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked whether  the Alaska  Court System                                                               
"amended that rule  to accommodate either CourtView  or what they                                                               
are doing with this on CourtView."                                                                                              
MS.  MEADE said  she was  not sure  she understood  his question.                                                               
The  amendment to  Administrative  Rule  40A added  approximately                                                               
eight  new  categories  of  cases that  the  court  removed  from                                                               
CourtView, and other cases still remain public, she conveyed.                                                                   
2:22:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  questioned  whether  this  bill  would                                                               
change Administrative Rule 40A.                                                                                                 
MS.  MEADE  advised  the  court   does  not  view  this  bill  as                                                               
incorporating any sort of rule change.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG quiered whether  the court published the                                                               
changes in  Rule 40A  in its role  as a procedural  rule or  as a                                                               
substantive rule.   He asked, in the event  the legislature chose                                                               
to amend Rule  40A whether it would require a  two-thirds vote as                                                               
an amendment to a procedural rule.                                                                                              
MS.  MEADE offered  that there  is a  substantial question  as to                                                               
whether the  legislature can amend  the administrative  rules, as                                                               
the  court  does  not  consider   those  rules  of  practice  and                                                               
procedure.   She  further offered  that the  court does  not view                                                               
this as an  amendment to the administrative  rule and; therefore,                                                               
does  not see  a problem  with the  legislature deciding  to take                                                               
this tact in this case.                                                                                                         
2:24:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked whether  the Alaska  Court System                                                               
believes there  are certain rules  the legislature does  not have                                                               
power to  amend, change, or  is completely immune  to legislative                                                               
CHAIR   LEDOUX   interjected  that   Representative   Gruenberg's                                                               
question has nothing  to do with this bill and  she directed that                                                               
he keep the discussion to this bill.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG questioned  whether Ms.  Meade had  any                                                               
comments regarding  his statement, "how  this thing can  cut both                                                               
MS. MEADE  stated she  has no  official comment  on that  and she                                                               
understands his job can be difficult.                                                                                           
2:25:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  asked in the  event this bill  was [Senate                                                               
Bill  108], of  last  year,  whether it  have  required the  rule                                                               
change that took place.                                                                                                         
MS. MEADE opined  that the court has decided  the legislature has                                                               
authority to  act in  this area  and does not  perceive it  as an                                                               
amendment  to Rule  40D.   She advised  the legislature  can take                                                               
this  action  without  the  court  thinking  the  legislature  is                                                               
improperly amending some court rule.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER expressed  that  it is  valuable that  the                                                               
bill becomes  a statute and  thanked the sponsor for  bringing it                                                               
2:26:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  provided that  a  bill  like this  raises                                                               
issues  of  protecting  people who  are  charged  improperly  for                                                               
crimes, and it creates concerns.   He quiered whether this [bill]                                                               
is only affecting  CourtView and not the bigger  question of what                                                               
is broadly accessible to the public.                                                                                            
MS.  MEADE confirmed  that  this  bill affects  only  what is  on                                                               
CourtView, and  that Senate  Bill 108 would  have made  the cases                                                               
confidential.  She  explained that under this  bill someone could                                                               
still go to  the courthouse and look into  cases, including those                                                               
that were fully  dismissed or acquitted.  In the  event this bill                                                               
passes, it would remove those cases from CourtView, she advised.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN asked  whether those  cases would  only be                                                               
accessible  from  the  courthouse  data base.    He  offered  the                                                               
scenario that  a person  could go  to the  courthouse, look  up a                                                               
case, locate  a filed  domestic violence  action, and  locate the                                                               
judge's  ruling  that there  was  no  relationship subject  to  a                                                               
MS. MEADE  clarified that the  hypothetical is off  CourtView now                                                               
due to the court rule and it has nothing to do with this bill.                                                                  
MS.  MEADE, in  response to  Representative Claman,  advised that                                                               
this bill would  allow people to go to the  courthouse, look at a                                                               
computer, and find  cases about people who ended  up in dismissal                                                               
and/or acquittal.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  asked whether this bill  goes further than                                                               
the current administrative court rule.                                                                                          
MS. MEADE responded  "further" in that it speaks  to cases coming                                                               
off CourtView  that are not mentioned  at all in the  court rule.                                                               
"It is a different beast," she offered.                                                                                         
2:30:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  reminded the  committee that  every person                                                               
is  innocent  until  found  guilty  and  CourtView  has  done  an                                                               
excellent  job of  trying to  warn people  that this  is not  the                                                               
official  view.     However,  people  have   become  techies  and                                                               
sometimes  look on  CourtView because  they  want to  know.   She                                                               
mentioned  that by  definition  a  person is  not  a criminal  if                                                               
acquitted at trial  or if their case is dismissed  by the courts.                                                               
SSHB 11 asks that Alaskans who  have not been found guilty of any                                                               
wrong  doing  be  given  the  right  of  emancipation  of  social                                                               
distrust and inherent prejudices.                                                                                               
2:31:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG requested the  opinion of the Department                                                               
of Public Safety,  and asked whether her office  made any inquiry                                                               
regarding states that may have addressed this issue.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  advised that few states  have allowed this                                                               
type of  access outside of the  courts.  She said  [that entities                                                               
such  as] the  Department of  Health  & Social  Services and  the                                                               
Department of  Public Safety  have a  data base  on line  that is                                                               
pass coded.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  the staff  to distribute  Alaska                                                               
Administrative Rule 40A.                                                                                                        
2:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LEDOUX  opened public  testimony and  advised she  will not                                                               
close it today.                                                                                                                 
2:34:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER opined  that this  is partially  caused by                                                               
technology and the  internet being available.  He  noted that the                                                               
whole idea of  defamation previously was cut and dry,  and it was                                                               
understood  what was  going on  in a  liable suit.   He  remarked                                                               
those  types of  things  are changing  because  an accusation  is                                                               
easier  to  read  in  social  media than  any  type  of  extended                                                               
defense.    He remarked  that  he  appreciates this  bill  coming                                                               
forward because an accusation can be devastating.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG suggested including a sunset date.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON stated she is  not opposed to the idea, but                                                               
people have to  pay a lot of  money for being at  the wrong place                                                               
at the wrong time.                                                                                                              
2:36:32 PM                                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CSHB15 Ver I.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 15
HB123-DCCED-ABC-03-09-15.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 123
HB123 Ver A.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 123
HB 123 Transmittal Letter.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 123
HB 123 Sectional Analysis.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 123
HB11 Fiscal Note - DOC.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 11
HB15 Fiscal Note - DOC 3-21.pdf HJUD 3/23/2015 1:00:00 PM
HB 15