The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

February 24, 2014

Other Views: Open warrant records

— A bill before the Kansas Legislature seeks to force law enforcement and prosecutors to make public the probable cause affidavits that support search warrants, which have been sealed since 1979.

And the family behind the legislation has good reason for pushing the change in the law. In April 2012, Johnson County sheriff’s deputies in full tactical gear raided the home of Leawood residents Robert and Adlynn Harte and their then 7- and 13-year-old children. During the raid, Robert Harte was held on the ground while an officer kept an assault rifle trained on him. The fruitless raid was based on information from the Missouri Highway Patrol that the Hartes had visited a hydroponic store and left with a bag of indoor gardening merchandise. While the heavily armored and armed officers expected to find marijuana, what they found were two scared kids, some tea leaves, and tomato and squash plants.

When the Hartes sought to uncover why the police needlessly raided their home, they met resistance, and it took nearly a year for the couple to learn that the baseless raid was founded on their visit to the gardening store and the three times police dug through their trash cans and found tea leaves they believed were marijuana. House Bill 2555 would force law enforcement to open their supporting affidavits behind search and arrest warrants.

But more importantly, it would shine light on the work of law enforcement and require them to prove to the public that they have built enough of a case to justify violating someone’s home or putting them in jail. The issue is more important than ever before as technology continues to advance in ways that allow law enforcement to remotely track and monitor individuals.

Naturally, the law enforcement community has responded that opening the records would add another layer of review and slow the time between investigations and court proceedings. That, however, is of little concern to families such as the Hartes, who were the victims of a careless and weak investigation that never should have ended with a full-blown crack house-style raid in a suburban neighborhood.

The concerns of law enforcement do not trump the constitutional rights of the individual. And in an era when Americans have learned more about the extent and scope of domestic surveillance, we’ve also learned that the processes in place to protect us against unlawful search and seizure are not adequate protection.

—The Hutchinson News

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Opinion
  • Our View.jpg Our View: No need for No. 9

    “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: ‘Right to Farm’ is wrong

    On Aug. 5, voters will be asked to make a decision about Amendment 1.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: No on Amendment 7

    The Missouri Department of Transportation is wanting more money through a three-quarter-cent addition to the sales tax. Consider one example of how it spends your money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: Bad way to get revenue

    I received two fliers through the mail today asking me to vote “yes” on Amendment 7, which would add a three-quarter-cent tax to Missouri’s sales tax to help maintain roads and bridges.

    July 29, 2014

  • Other Views Other Views: Symptom of bad policy

    The Obama administration continues to be surprised and shocked when its policies of good intentions suddenly meet the hard reality of unintended consequences.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rebecca French Smith, guest columnist: Amendment 1: Farmers are 'boots on the ground'

    Take a moment and ask yourself who was the last person in your family to farm.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View; Makes no sense

    Chess was never my game. It’s too complicated.

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Time value of money

     I was shaking my head along with Anson Burlingame (“Much has changed in U.S. over 14 years,” Globe, July 22), then he offered his readers a chance: “Go ahead — take your pick.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Your View: Boiling a frog

    We voters are now being urged to vote on Aug. 5 for Amendment 7 “to fix our roads, highways and bridges.”

    July 28, 2014

  • Our view: 'Yes' on 7

    Opponents of Amendment 7 say this: “Missouri families are already hard pressed to pay their bills during this period of slow economic recovery.”

    July 26, 2014

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Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

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