Media Seeks Details of ‘iPhoneGate’ Warrant

MSNBC reports that the Associated Press and other news organizations have asked a judge to unseal the search warrant affidavit used to raid the home of editor Jason Chen. The warrant used for the raid was already made public and indicated that it was related to a "suspected felony." No charges have been filed and the confiscated material – computers, hard drives, digital cameras, cell phones, financial documents, etc. – remains in the hands of law enforcement.

Steve Wagstaffe, spokesman for the San Mateo County district attorney’s office, said that the confiscated items "are not being examined while prosecutors consider arguments that the search was illegal." Meanhwile Chen’s attorney, Thomas Burke of Davis Wright Tremaine in San Francisco, said in a recent interview that the search warrant should have never been issued because California law protects journalists from such searches without a special hearing.

The legality of the raid is one of many unanswered questions media outlets are asking – more specifically, reasons for the search warrant being more compelling than the legal protections given to journalists under California law. Curiously, Court documents revealing legal reasons for a particular search are usually made public within 10 days, but the affidavit supporting this raid remains sealed.

The "suspected felony" relates to an iPhone prototype phone that was sold to Gawker Media’s Gizmodo for $5,000 after a hapless Apple engineer left it in a Silicon Valley bar and later found by another bar patron.

Source: MSNBC

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  1. 0
    Ratros says:

    This is America, it’s Guilty until proven innocent.  And even then you’re still considered guilty most of the time.  Of course this does not apply to the wealthy.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  2. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to assume that the "reporter" in this case is actually a reporter as was intended to be protected by California’s shield law. That ain’t entirely clear to me. Granted, I haven’t read much Gizmodo, but if they’re anything like GamePolitics has become since the departure of Dennis McCauley, a claim to being a legitimate "journalist" could well be specious. Just because you wait on legitimate journals to publish news stories and then republish those stories on a blog doesn’t necessarily make you a journalist worthy of protection. It more clearly makes you a plagiarist, but that it makes you a journalist is less clear. 

  3. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Unless a reporter is convicted of a crime, a public hearing has to be held to determine if a search warrant can be issued to investigate a reporter, if the warrant is tied to something involving a story he or she is working on.  No such hearing was held in this particular case.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  4. 0
    MrBounce says:

    What "legal protection" under Californian law? Since when does California have a law protecting someone who buys stolen property?

  5. 0
    jedidethfreak says:

    Actually, they’re inherently linked.  If they don’t have enough evidence that he committed a felony, then the hearing should have commenced.  You know, "innocent until proven guilty" and all.

    With the first link, the chain is forged.

  6. 0
    Defenestrator says:

    Thomas Burke of Davis Wright Tremaine in San Francisco, said in a recent interview that the search warrant should have never been issued because California law protects journalists from such searches without a special hearing.

    I love how they always creatively leave off the part about how the journalist shield laws don’t apply if it’s suspected the journalist has committed a felony.

    Of course, I think they’re still trying to determine if he committed a felony, but that’s another story.

  7. 0
    Yuuri says:

    From what I’ve read elsewhere, the guy who ‘found’ it at the bar is facing criminal charges himself, as Cali has a law stating if you find something, reasonable attempts to return to owner must be made or else it will be considered theft. In the article I read, all he did was ask various patrons of the bar if it was theirs. He didn’t even leave contact information with the bar, let alone letting the bar know he had it, incase the owner came looking for it.

  8. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    Hmmmm… I suppose it all boils down to whether person buying the goods knew or suspected they were stolen, and does ‘finding it in a bar’ surmount to ‘theft’ (theoretically, yes, when you consider the sum it was sold on for, the person who found it obviously had some idea of its value). From that point, I can almost see the reason behind the laws’ reasoning, but then, without knowing how much evidence the Police had with regards to what was going on, I really couldn’t guess at the legality of a search warrant, from what I understand, there’s needs to be some pretty compelling evidence to make a search warrantable.


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