Friday, August 24, 2012

Search Warrant Affidavits Public Records, SJC Rules

The Quincy Patriot Ledger building, located at...
The Quincy Patriot Ledger building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court this week, in Com. v. George Prescott Publishing Co., LLC (Case No. 11062), ruled that police affidavits supporting search warrants must be produced under the Commonwealth's Public Records Law (G.L. c. 66, sec. 10).

Siding with the Quincy Patriot Ledger, which sought a State Police affidavit involving alleged sexual misconduct by a prominent real estate developer allegedly involving a minor, the SJC rejected arguments by the developer's counsel that his client's right to a fair trial would be compromised and by authorities, who contended that G.L. c. 41, sec. 97D was controlling and shielded the affidavit from production. That statute exempts rape and sexual assault reports, along with conversations between police and victims, from production under the Public Records Law. A Quincy District Court judge had sealed the document, prompting the daily to appeal.

The SJC frowns on impounding documents and cited in its opinion well-established case law treating search warrants and supporting documentation as presumptive public records. The high court's ruling voiced confidence in trial judges' ability to balance First Amendment concerns against a criminal defendant's right to a presumption of innocence.
Enhanced by Zemanta

1 comment:

  1. Sheldon you have posted latest information about the legal rules of the public records. Thanks for sharing this valuable post.