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Arkansas counties to stop automatically sealing affidavits

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  1. Court Access
Faced with newspaper scrutiny, judges in two Arkansas counties have agreed to reopen arrest affidavits in criminal cases -- records…

Faced with newspaper scrutiny, judges in two Arkansas counties have agreed to reopen arrest affidavits in criminal cases — records that have been automatically sealed for at least 10 years, the Associated Press reports.

Judge Berlin Jones told the AP the documents were originally closed because their contents were making the news just as defendants faced trial — an occurrence seen as damaging to fair trial rights. Rick Peltz, a University of Arkansas media law professor, told  the wire service the judiciary’s response was far too sweeping: "You can’t just have a general rule of no access. Presumption has to run in favor of access."