Lauranzano agreed with the state Supreme Judicial Court that “when filed in court, search warrant materials are judicial records to which the public’s presumptive right to access applies,” but also said judges may impound documents — sealing them from public view — “where good cause is demonstrated.”
Judges must make those decisions on a case-by-case basis, he said, considering “the nature of the parties and the controversies involved, the types of information and the privacy interests involved, the extent of community interest and the reason for the impoundment request.”
Peter Caruso, a lawyer representing The Salem News and the Eagle-Tribune, said the decision was disappointing, especially after the District Attorney’s Office had agreed to release a redacted version of the warrant documents, which would have shielded the names of juvenile witnesses and some confidential details of the crime.
“Keeping secret the entire search warrant procedure does not follow the spirit and intent of the SJC’s decisions,” Caruso said, “The public is left to wonder and speculate about very serious police actions that only the DA knows and wants to keep secret. ... The public remains in the dark.”
Caruso said there were “no specific reasons cited by the court to keep the entire procedure secret, as the Supreme Judicial Court has required.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.