Senate votes to remove records from CourtView

By a 19-1 vote on Wednesday, the Alaska Senate has approved a bill that calls for records of acquittals, dismissed cases and dropped cases to be expunged from Alaska’s online court record system, CourtView.

The vote follows a 32-4 approval last year in the Alaska House, where the bill was introduced by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. The bill was amended with a technical correction, which means it must return to the House for what is expected to be an uncontroversial vote to concur with the Senate’s change. After that, it will go to the desk of Gov. Bill Walker for signature or veto.

Under the bill, CourtView records will be scrubbed after 60 days for people whose cases are dropped and dismissed, or if they are found innocent at trial. The records of their arrest and trial will still be kept in hard copy, but there will no longer be an easy way to discover that those records exist.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, said the bill is a “softer version” of one that was vetoed by then-Gov. Sean Parnell when 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, also speaking from the floor, shared an anecdote about an Anchorage woman who was arrested in error and had her case dropped, but her arrest still showed up in CourtView.

If you did the research, he said, you could find out that her case was dropped, “however, a lot of people don’t do that,” he said.

While HB11 enjoyed widespread support in the Alaska Legislature, it wasn’t universal.

The Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police opposed the bill, writing in a pair of letters saying, “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 it infringes on the public’s right to know.”

As written, the bill will erase the records of cases dropped because of prosecutorial mistakes or misconduct, as well as those for which there is insufficient evidence.

Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, cast the sole vote in the Senate against the bill. As he exited the chamber, he said, “I don’t think we pay enough attention to victims’ rights here in Alaska.”

More in News

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche, left, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, right, meet with reporters in Micciche’s office in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska, after the Legislature ended its regular session. Micciche, a Republican, and Begich, a Democrat, discussed their working relationship, as well as well as parts of the session they were either pleased with or disappointed with. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
After House balks at bigger figure, budget OK’d with $3,200 payout per Alaskan

Budget finishes as second-largest in state history by one measure, but Dunleavy could make cuts

Loren Reese, principal at Kenai Alternative High School, gives Oliver Larrow the Mr. Fix It award Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Kenai Alternative High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Alternative graduates 22, says goodbye to principal

The ceremony included special awards customized for students

Graduates throw their caps into the air at the end of Soldotna High School’s commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘We never fell down’

Soldotna High School honors more than 100 graduates

Brandi Harbaugh gives a presentation during a joint work session on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Mill rate decrease, max school funding included in proposed borough budget

The final document is subject to approval by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

Most Read