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Unsealing Search Warrant Materials For Uncharged Clients
By Daniel Monnat,Paige Nichols
They come late at night, hushed at first. Then, with the splintering of the front door, screaming: “Police officers. We have a search warrant!” A small army of them, looking like dark robots with their high-tech SWAT team gear and weaponry. Fanning out. Tossing the place. And, finally, vanishing.
Months pass. But the prosecution files no charges against your client. Meanwhile, your client has been deprived of significant personal and business items. Your client is uncertain about the future. The television and newspaper carry stories about the raid. Neighbors and family look at your client oddly. There is widespread speculation about the reason for the raid.
In an effort to learn why your client was targeted, in the cool of the afternoon you go to the courthouse. Of the kind, familiar clerk, you request access to the affidavit and other supporting documents underlying the search warrant. Even before you finish, the clerk begins to shake his head gently: “Sorry. Search warrant documents
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