Record sealing policy reversed
Arkansas: Arrest affidavits for defendants in the 11th Judicial District-West (Jefferson and Lincoln counties) will no longer be automatically sealed. Circuit court judges made the change after the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette questioned the practice, which had been unique in Arkansas to the 11th District-West.
Open records advocates have praised the change. "This is the right call, and I’m pleased to see it," according to Rick Peltz, professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s law school and an open-records expert.
Arrest affidavits had been sealed in the district for at least the previous decade. The practice is said to have gotten it's start when local newspaper Pine Bluff Commercial began printing affidavit details, and there was concern that it would taint the juror pool.
Peltz gave little credence to that notion, saying: "The law is pretty clear: You have to respond to a specific threat of jury taint or a specific problem. You can’t just have a general rule of no access. Presumption has to run in favor of access."