A nonprofit group recently released a criminal law-focused report that is attracting considerable attention nationally. An article by The Marshall Project focusing upon that study notes that states across the country are "evenly split" on how they view and treat its subject matter.
The spotlighted topic is this: law enforcers' access to and handling of information from sealed arrest records in cases that were either dismissed or did not result in a criminal conviction.
The project's in-depth media piece highlights New York's take addressing the subject, which is direct and unequivocal. State statutory law mandates that such records be sealed or destroyed.
It turns out that a decidedly different outcome has long been occurring, namely, that cops continue to have ready access "to reservoirs of records they shouldn't be able to see."
They are reportedly turning to such data routinely to zero in on individuals who they would otherwise lack any probable cause to target or interact with. They are using big data that should be inaccessible to them, says one study commentator, "to train the spotlight of their suspicion."
A pool of New York plaintiffs has now filed a lawsuit - potentially a class action - against the City of New York and NYPD targeting the unlawful use of databases containing records that shouldn't even exist. That litigation could possibly gain traction nationally, leading to similar litigation in other states.
Colorado is one of those jurisdictions, with the state reportedly joining in with 24 others that give police departments full access to arrest records regardless whether they were expunged or sealed.
We will keep readers of our criminal defense blog posts at Shazam Kianpour & Associates duly informed concerning any key developments that arise concerning the litigation and its potential expansion.