- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Topeka Capital-Journal, May 5

Legislature to be applauded for sunshine bill:

It may take most Kansans a while to digest the good, the not so good and the downright ugly products of the 2014 legislative session, but it is not too early to applaud legislators for passing and sending to Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that will open to some public scrutiny the probable cause documents law enforcement officers and prosecutors present to judges to obtain search and arrest warrants.

If Brownback signs the bill, as he should, Kansas will no longer be the only state in the nation that completely seals such documents from the public. That will be a good thing, and a major victory for transparency.


Credit for convincing the Legislature to pass the bill goes largely to Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, and two of his constituents in Johnson County who were treated to an early-morning drug raid and spent years and $20,000 of their own money to find out why.

The couple was eventually successful in obtaining a copy of the probable cause documents for the search warrant from the court. They learned their purchase of materials at a hydroponics store to grow tomatoes in their basement had been reported to police, who conducted a search of the couple’s trash that turned up some tea leaves. The leaves were mistaken for marijuana. A search warrant for their home was subsequently sought and issued.

Why law enforcement officers didn’t take the time to test the tea leaves, and why the judge issued a warrant on such flimsy evidence is unknown. It is hoped that such rushes to judgment are the exception rather than the rule in Kansas. But with the probable cause documents tightly sealed away from public view, there was no way to know, until now.

The bill passed in the waning hours of the 2014 session makes the probable cause documents for arrest warrants open to the public after five days. Access to probable cause documents for search warrants will be limited to the owners of the property searched. Broader access to the information regarding search warrants would further enhance transparency, but the compromise worked out between opponents and proponents of the bill is acceptable.

We’ve little doubt people subjected to unreasonable searches - such as the one conducted on the Johnson County tomato-growing operation - won’t be hesitant bring them to the public’s attention.

It’s also assumed that law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges will take greater care in ensuring the warrants they seek and issue don’t breach the public’s constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

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The Hutchinson News, May 2

A Kansas failure-tale:

Once upon a time, Gov. Sam Brownback said that his grand tax plan would be a “shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” It would create tens of thousands of new jobs, he said, grow the state’s coffers and “directly benefit our schools and local governments.”

Turns out, it wasn’t adrenaline the governor was pumping into the state’s vein, it was morphine and it has made the state, and its economic activity, lethargic and uninspiring.

Story Continues →