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Bill would keep background of judicial nominees private

May 3, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Some Rhode Island Democrats are supporting legislation to keep background records confidential for judicial nominees with lifetime appointments.

The Providence Journal reports that Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, who introduced the bill, says the intention is to treat judges like other prospective state workers whose personnel records are kept confidential.

The bill also requires records be stored in a “secured state property” with dedicated staffing.

Such records used to be kept confidential, but the state revised its public records law in 2012 allowing the release of nominee information if it passed a “balancing test,” weighing public value against individual privacy.

Opponents say the bill would shield important information from the public and that after a history of corruption in Rhode Island courts, the state should be maintaining, not retreating from transparency.

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