Parnell Vetoes A Bill Curbing Record Access

Gov. Sean Parnell has vetoed a bill that would have scrubbed Courtview — the state’s online criminal records database — of any charge that did not result in a conviction.

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In a four-page letter to lawmakers, Parnell described Senate Bill 108 as legislation that “summarily sweeps” all cases that do not end in a guilty verdict “under the cloak of confidentiality in an unnecessarily broad manner without respect to likely adverse impacts on the public.”

During testimony on the bill, the case of serial killer Israel Keyes, who committed suicide before going to trial, was frequently cited as an instance where court records would have been sealed under the law. The bill was opposed by the Office of Victims Rights, and the Alaska Press Club also came out against it for transparency reasons.

The bill was introduced by Republican Fred Dyson, a retiring state senator from Eagle River. He viewed the legislation as a matter of justice and of privacy, arguing that people who are not found guilty in court should not have their records listed in a public database. In place of Senate Bill 108, the Alaska Court System has adopted a rule that would wipe the records of any person who was arrested but not charged with a crime, minors who had been wrongly prosecuted in adult court, and cases with an identity was mistaken or there is lack of probable cause.

This is the second bill this cycle that Parnell has vetoed. The first dealt with the management of a waterfowl refuge in Fairbanks, and was rejected because of a drafting error. Only one bill, which recognizes Alaska Native languages as official, remains to be signed.