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From the Summer 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 19. The American Bar Association’s policy-making body,…

From the Summer 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 19.

The American Bar Association’s policy-making body, the House of Delegates, will vote on seven resolutions concerning public access to criminal justice information at the association’s annual meeting, Aug. 13-14. If a resolution passes, it becomes official ABA policy. The resolutions urge federal, state and local governments to:

Limit access to all closed criminal cases in which charges were dropped, reversed or vacated and seal misdemeanor and felony convictions after a specific period of time.

Allow the use of a sealed conviction for subsequent prosecution or sentencing, allow any individual to have access to a sealed record upon a showing of good cause, revoke a previously sealed case upon a subsequent conviction, and allow a remedy when an unauthorized disclosure occurs.

Require applications for employment or licensing to affirmatively state that the applicant is not required or expected to report a sealed arrest or conviction, and prohibit employers from requiring job applicants to disclose a sealed arrest or conviction or deny employment based on a sealed arrest or conviction.

Clearly indicate to the subject of a sealed arrest or conviction that she may state in response to any inquiry, other than by law enforcement, that the arrest or conviction in question did not take place.

Prohibit credit reporting agencies and background-screening services from disseminating sealed information about arrests and convictions and provide penalties for unlawful information dissemination.

Limit access to government-retained criminal information, including information in state records repositories.

Make evidence of sealed conviction information inadmissible in any negligence or wrongful conduct lawsuit against an employer.