Washington justices OK warrantless review of bank records

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington's Supreme Court has upheld a little-known state law that allows investigators to get a suspect's bank records without a search warrant.

Under the law, adopted in 1971, police have been able to get those records without showing probable cause — the standard that applies to search warrants -- in certain cases. Instead, they can get the information with a subpoena issued under a lesser standard in a secret hearing called a "special inquiry."

In a 7-2 ruling, the court said those secret hearings provide adequate authority for police to obtain the records, even though people have a constitutionally protected privacy interest in them.

The dissenting justices called that illogical. They noted that Washington precedent bars police from searching through curbside garbage without a warrant and said people's bank records should receive as much protection as their trash.