Adam Lanza’s Search Warrants and Why Warrants are Sealed
Adam Lanza’s unsealed search warrant writes a new chapter in the ever-unfolding horror story of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. Among the items found in Lanza’s home were hundreds of rounds of ammo, rifles, knives and pictures of a bloody and apparently dead body covered in plastic. As the portrait of Lanza’s preparations become unnervingly clearer, one wonders why a search warrant must be sealed in the first place if it will only become unsealed later.
A warrant is sealed by a court to withhold information from the public. This process of withholding happens for various reasons. Sometimes, information contained in a search warrant can put someone in danger if released to the public. Oftentimes, affidavits, which are the government’s factual findings, are attached to warrants and name informants or incriminating evidence. If these pieces of evidence were to be released prior to the completion of an investigation, persons related to the investigation could destroy evidence or flee jurisdiction.
To unseal a warrant, a person or body must petition the court for the warrant to be unsealed. In the event that the court grants this request, the court has the option to redact information like names, numbers and addresses. A redaction simply means this information is blacked out from the warrant or affidavit. Typically, media organizations are the first to request the unsealed warrant. To view Adam Lanza’s search warrant click here.