Information about search of auto dealership still scarce
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | January 24,2013
BENNINGTON — An attorney representing Thomas Lyons has requested that a search warrant executed Monday at Lyons’ home and his business, Bennington Subaru, be sealed and Judge Cortland Corsones took the request under advisement Wednesday.
Law enforcement officials are not discussing why they searched the home and the business or what they found. More information could be found in the search warrant, which is expected to include information about any items the police confiscated, if items were confiscated, and an affidavit explaining the reason for the search.
However, David Silver, a Bennington attorney, filed a motion on Tuesday asking that the warrants be sealed.
On Wednesday, Corsones heard arguments on the request from Silver who said the judge had the power to seal the warrant if there was a showing of a “substantial threat to the interests of effective law enforcement or individual privacy and safety.”
“An affidavit like this ... doesn’t have to be based on admissible evidence. It can be based on hearsay. In fact, this one is based on hearsay and sometimes double-hearsay and triple-hearsay,” he said.
While Silver said that a “substantial threat to privacy” is not defined under Vermont law, he said that whatever the threshold is, “this affidavit under these circumstances, meets that threshold and goes far beyond it.”
Silver did not give specific examples. Before he made his argument, he requested permission to make a sealed argument over specific allegations in the affidavit, arguing that it would not make sense to make an argument before the press about information he was asking be sealed.
Corsones agreed and cleared the courtroom temporarily.
However, in public, Silver described Lyons as a “prominent and visible member of this community,” who owns a business and has served on the board of directors for the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bennington Museum.
“The damage would not only be to his reputation but his ability to make a living and to maintain his dealership,” Silver said.
Silver said the information should especially not be released before the state’s attorney’s office had decided whether or not charges would be filed and what those charges might be.
Corsones interrupted to say that he believed the warrants would be a public record even if charges were not filed but Silver said under those circumstances, he would be back before the court making a similar argument.
According to Silver, Lyons would have no forum to reply to the allegations in the affidavit during the “many, many months it’s going to take to get all the forensics evidence evaluated.”
Christina Rainville, the Bennington County state’s attorney’s chief deputy, had filed a motion on Tuesday asking that the judge either seal the third of three warrants or redact information about it because that warrant had not yet been served. On Wednesday, Rainville said the state was taking no position on the public release of the information and made no argument.
After the hearing, Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage explained that by Wednesday afternoon, all three warrants had been served.
Marthage said she couldn’t make any comment on the details of the investigation.