Why are court records sealed in Planned Parenthood shooting?

From Colorado Public Radio: Immediately after last week’s attack at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, many people wanted to know alleged shooter Robert Lewis Dear’s motive. But law enforcement documents, including the arrest and search warrants, that could provide insight into that question were sealed the day of the attack by Judge Stephen Sletta at the request of prosecutors.

What does it mean to seal something? Sealing part of the court record means only the judge and the court staff can access it, said Colorado’s judicial public information officer Robert McCallum. Of course, whoever asked for the document to be sealed would know the content.

Court records can also be suppressed, which often means that the public can’t access the document without a court order.

Whole cases can be suppressed too. If a case is suppressed, records of the case don’t show up in the public judicial records, says McCallum. And if someone asks about a case that has been suppressed, the court is empowered to say that the case doesn’t exist.

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