- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Senate has approved a bill that calls for records of acquittals, dismissed cases and dropped cases to be erased from the state’s online court record system.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday in favor of the legislation, which was also approved in the Alaska House last year. The bill has been amended with a technical correction and will return to the House for another review, The Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/1VuSp7v).

Under the bill, court records would be expunged from the online system after 60 days for people whose cases are dropped and dismissed, or if they are found to be innocent. A hard copy of their arrest and trial records will still be available.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, called the bill a “softer version” of one that was vetoed by then-Gov. Sean Parnell after the 28th Alaska Legislature approved it.

“This does not expunge the court records,” Giessel said. “The hard copies will still be available in the (courthouse).”

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, shared a story on the Senate floor Wednesday of an Anchorage woman who was wrongly arrested and had her case dropped, but her arrest still appeared on the online court system. He said people would have to do some digging to find out that her case had been dropped, “however, a lot of people don’t do that,” he said.

While the bill appears to have widespread support in the Alaska Legislature, it has faced some opposition.

The Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police, in a pair of letters, said “while we feel this bill was well intentioned, we are unable to lend our support to it. We do not feel that it serves the interests of public safety because infringes on the public’s right to know.”

Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, was the only one to vote against the bill in the Senate on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we pay enough attention to victims’ rights here in Alaska,” he said.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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