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Kansas House approves bill that would open arrest records

The Kansas House on Thursday approved a bill that would open records showing what led to an arrest in a criminal case.

Kansas is believed to be the only state that closes such records — known as probable cause affidavits — unless approved by a judge.

A final House vote is scheduled for Friday, and passage is expected. The bill still needs approval from the Senate before going to Gov. Sam Brownback.

The bill was spurred by a police raid at a Leawood couple’s home in a failed search for marijuana in 2012. No arrests were made. No charges were filed.

The couple — former CIA employees — spent $25,000 on various legal efforts to obtain the records from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for a better idea of what led to the search of their home.

The documents showed the raid was based on a visit to a hydroponics store where police thought people might be buying equipment to grow marijuana.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Rubin, a Shawnee Republican, would make the probable cause statement public unless otherwise directed by a judge. It spells out several exceptions for keeping the record closed. For example, a probable cause statement could still be closed to the public if prosecutors can make a case that public disclosure would threaten the safety of a victim, witness or confidential source.

Rubin’s bill also would make probable cause affidavits for search warrants available to the targets of searches, with some exceptions.

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