Q&A: Probable cause affidavits


From the Rensselaer Republican:

Q: Does the press have public access to probable cause affidavits? I was denied one in Newton County.

A: The general rule is probable cause affidavits are court records that should be disclosable to the public. You could have a specific record  closed by court order (to give police opportuntity to make arrest before suspect learns of the arrest warrant issued from the affidavit, but that sealing should only last until the arrest was made. The court in a particular county should not have a blanket policy of closing the affidavits.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.