Legislature(1993 - 1994)
1994-03-09 House JournalFull Journal pdf
1994-03-09 House Journal Page 2683 HB 523 HOUSE BILL NO. 523 by the House Rules Committee by request of the Governor, entitled: "An Act amending Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(r) relating to admissibility of hearsay evidence by peace officers before the grand jury." was read the first time and referred to the State Affairs and Judiciary Committees. 1994-03-09 House Journal Page 2684 HB 523 The following fiscal notes apply: Zero fiscal notes (2), Dept. of Administration, 3/9/94 Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Public Safety, 3/9/94 Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Law, 3/9/94 The Governor's transmittal letter, dated March 9, 1994, appears below: "Dear Speaker Barnes: Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill that amends Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(r) to allow one peace officer, such as an Alaska state trooper or police officer, to testify at grand jury as to what another peace officer heard, said, or did in the course of a criminal investigation. This will reduce the number of peace officers that must be involved and required to testify when a case is presented to a grand jury, especially when the peace officers may have only played a minor role in the investigation. In federal courts in Alaska, the lead case agent on a particular investigation simply comes before the federal grand jury and testifies about the entire scope of what was learned during the course of an investigation. If 12 law enforcement agents were involved, the federal court rules do not require all 12 agents to personally appear and testify before the grand jury. The federal rules allow for just one case agent to appear and testify before the grand jury -- leaving the other 11 agents available on the street to fight crime. This is not the situation in Alaska's state courts. Because hearsay evidence is generally not allowed to be presented before the grand jury in criminal cases, the lead peace officer investigating the case cannot simply testify about what that officer learned from fellow officers conducting the investigation. The lead officer cannot even testify before the grand jury about what that officer heard over police radio - - the police dispatcher who made the particular radio transmission must be called into court to testify about the statement in person. It frequently takes many work hours to prepare, and to be present, to testify. 1994-03-09 House Journal Page 2685 HB 523 As the federal courts in Alaska routinely prove, Alaska's hearsay rule does not provide any greater protection of the constitutional rights of Alaskans than does the federal practice. The present state court rule unnecessarily pulls dozens of peace officers off patrol every month simply to wait around to testify. The language in Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(r), which presently prohibits virtually all hearsay testimony in the grand jury, should be amended to permit peace officers to testify as to what their fellow officers saw or heard -- for example, as to the contents of their fellow officers' official police reports. The state is presently facing a projected decline in revenue. This simple, constitutional, rule change can reduce grand jury costs to the state by allowing one officer, rather than many, to present the relevant evidence, at the same time freeing up nontestifying officers to do essential public protection duties. If this bill is enacted, we could save money and keep Alaska's police and troopers out on the street fighting crime, without affecting the quality of evidence presented to the grand jury. I urge your favorable action on this bill. Sincerely, /s/ Walter J. Hickel Governor"