Q&A: Probable cause affidavit

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The following question came from the Daily Reporter (Greenfield):

Question: Our newly elected county clerk denied access today to a probable cause affidavit in a criminal matter. The case involves charges of incest and molesting, and the clerk wouldn’t turn the document over because the victim is a juvenile. The suspect is an adult. We’ve never had trouble getting probable cause affidavits in molesting cases before. I thought only a judge could order such records sealed. Are we missing something?

Answer: Under Administrative Rule 9, you should be able to get the probable cause affidavit unless it was sealed by a judge. It isn’t up to the clerk to decide.

Since the victim is a juvenile and it is a sex crime, the court or clerk should make sure that the victim’s name (except for initials), address, phone number and date of birth are redacted from the copy you receive.

Have a media law question for Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel? Contact him at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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