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Kansas bill would exempt juror addresses from public record

Associated Press - May 7, 2017 8:20 am

A top Democratic lawmaker says he is joining the crowded race to replace Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. House Minority Leader Jim Ward of Wichita announced his candidacy Saturday. He had named former Democratic Party chairman Lee Kinch as his campaign treasurer earlier this week.

Kansas lawmakers Friday passed a compromise bill aimed at protecting jurors from harassment without impairing court transparency.

The House passed the bill 118-3 on Friday. The Senate passed it 40-0 on Wednesday.

The bill exempts jurors’ addresses from the public record. The original bill also exempted jurors’ names, but transparency advocates say that would be a step toward court secrecy. They reached a compromise with district judges who say disclosing jurors’ names and information leaves them open to harassment. District judges say the disclosure has a “chilling effect” on prospective jurors.

Jurors’ names would still be public record under the bill. District Judge James Fleetwood says just guarding jurors’ addresses would help prevent harassment.

GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s spokeswoman Melika Willoughby declined to say whether Brownback would sign the bill.