Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Judge: Campus Cops Wrongly Seized Photog's Camera

Campus of the UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Califor...Image via Wikipedia
Alameda County (Calif.) Superior Court Judge Yolanda Northridge has ruled that U.C. Berkeley campus police violated state law when they seized Bay Area Independent Media Center ("Indybay") photographer David Morse's camera on Dec. 11, 2009, as Morse was snapping pictures of a protest outside Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's campus home that resulted in vandalism to the home and the arrest of Morse and a handful of protesters.

According to a story in The Contra Costa Times, Judge Northridge ordered campus police to return photos to Morse that were seized after his arrest. Morse purportedly identified himself to police as a journalist a half dozen times during the demonstration, at which windows in Birgeneau's residence were smashed and eight arrests--including Morse--occurred.  Police secured a search warrant to retrieve photos from Morse's camera, but Morse's attorney claimed authorities did not disclose that Morse had identified himself as a journalist when they obtained the warrant.

Article 1, Section 2(b) of the California Constitution articulates a strong shield law that, in part, protects journalists from having to surrender unpublished information obtained during newsgathering, including photographs.
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