Hm. The People’s Lawyer, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, has some big-time reservations about a proposal to allow greater public access to records of criminal investigations. He’d like to keep state law just the way it is, according to VTDigger:
In testimony to lawmakers on Thursday, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell delivered a spirited defense of keeping criminal investigation records largely closed to the public.
Seems he has some privacy concerns. Or so he says.
Problem is, this isn’t some left-wing radical fever dream; the openness proposal comes from none other than Governor Shumlin.
And it’s based entirely on the well-established and thoroughly tested federal rules for disclosure, as we reported on January 4:
Shumlin would like the Legislature to adopt existing federal standards for releasing such information, which state that “records of criminal investigation can only be withheld if disclosure would result in specific harm.”
There’s another advantage to accepting the federal guidelines: “There’s a large body of record around the federal guidelines that will clarify when something should be disclosed and when it can’t be disclosed.”
Allen Gilbert of ACLU-VT supports the legislation. And Senator Dick Sears, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who is not known as a transparency firebrand, says he is leaning toward the Shumlin proposal.
The law enforcement community, which sometimes opposes opening public records, supports the Shumlin proposal. An attorney for the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state police, said her department has supported a move to the federal standard since early 2011.
All righty then. On one side we have Governor Shumlin, the federal government, the Vermont ACLU, and the law enforcement community.
On the other side, singing a plaintive rendition of “All By Myself”: Bill Sorrell.