This was a solution looking for a problem, more about managing public relations than protecting sources. The Governor should give it the axe.
A bill awaiting the governor's signature would allow sealing of search warrant affidavits for up to 60 days – 30 days with a possible 30-day extension. Sealing is not automatic. A prosecutor must ask a judge to seal an affidavit if disclosure would jeopardize confidential informants, if it would harm a continuing investigation or if it contained information from an unexpired court-ordered wiretap.
Historically, such affidavits were open to allow public scrutiny of law enforcement activities. In cases where names of confidential sources needed to be protected, they were redacted.
Search warrant affidavits are key public documents in criminal cases that have been public records since time immemorial. The subject of the search typically knows the cause and protections already exist to preserve informant confidentiality, so the only folks kept in the dark by SB 244 are the press and the public. That should not stand.
Mr. Governor, please veto SB 244!
Go here to let Rick Perry know if you agree.
MORE: Don't conceal search warrant affidavits!