A Connecticut superior court judge overturned a ruling by the state’s Freedom of Information Commission ordering police to release private documents belonging to Adam Lanza, the man who fatally shot his mother, then 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School before turning the gun on himself in December 2012.
Judge Carl J. Schuman said that the documents should be sealed, arguing that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to “documents that were private property before seizure by the police and that a court would ordinarily order returned to the rightful owner by the end of a criminal case,” according to the Hartford Courant, the paper that made the initial request to release the documents.
Schuman noted that the documents—notebooks, a spreadsheet and other items detailing Lanza’s obsession with violence and previous mass shooters—may have come out if there had been a trial. He sought to apply his ruling to other cases without trials that do not necessarily end in the perpetrator’s death. “Future cases will undoubtedly involve this sort of involuntary seizure of a victim’s diary or other personal notes, a person’s phone records, computer or email communications, bank records, medical records, business records, and other items,” he wrote. “Exposure of these items to the public when the state has not seen a need to do so in the criminal case entails a significant invasion of the owner’s privacy and interference with his or her property rights.”
The publisher and editor-in-chief of the Courant said he and his colleagues were “disappointed in the decision and are currently assessing our options.”