CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, August 9, 2007

ABA Proposal Could Lead to the Loss if Record Access

From The public could lose access to certain arrest and court records, even those of people convicted of serious crimes, under a proposal being considered by the nation's largest organization of lawyers.

An American Bar Association committee that drafted the proposal says ready access to court records has led to employment and housing discrimination against people who were arrested but never convicted of crimes or who have completed sentences and returned to society.

News media organizations say limiting public access to records, which would require changes to state and federal law, would violate the First Amendment and make it harder to expose misconduct by police and prosecutors. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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This issue points up the fundamental difficulty of enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Once a potential employer is able to discover that you were accused but not convicted of something, there's no way to know if that was the reason for his "no" unless you can read his mind.

Ultimately, then, we have three choices: (1) classify all such personal info, so it's off limits to the potential employer; (2) have government bureaucrats make all hiring decisions themselves; or (3) allow this and other kinds of unfair discrimination to take place unhindered.

I'd strongly prefer (1), but even (3) is better than (2).

Posted by: John David Galt | Aug 12, 2007 1:25:24 PM

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