Los Angeles Press Club Stands Up for the First Amendment rights of all Journalists
Blogger Jason Chen’s First Amendment rights were trampled when police raided his home last month
Hollywood, CA. The Los Angeles Press Club joins in the strong statement issued by the Newspaper Guild/CWA that blogger Jason Chen’s First Amendment rights were trampled upon when authorities raided his home on April 21.
The Los Angeles Press Club does not endorse “check book” journalism, but the fact that Gizmodo paid for the prototype iPhone that Chen wrote about is not relevant. The California Shield law protects all journalists from revealing sources and unpublished notes
While Chen was away from home, police forced open his front door and took away his computers, hard drives and cameras. Chen works for a legitimate media organization-and since he works at home, his entire newsroom was seized.
The seizure occurred all because he wrote extensively about Apple’s misplaced next generation iPhone and authorities told a judge the property may be related to a possible felony. The phone was promptly returned to Apple when the company belatedly asked for it.
However, since misplaced property is not stolen property, there may have been no illegal activity in the first place by the person who found the iPhone.
Even if the finder of the lost iPhone acted illegally, as Los Angeles Times media reporter James Rainey points out, the Supreme Court has ruled that a source’s illegal activity doesn’t “remove the First Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.”
We’re also troubled by the fact that Apple has a representative on the San Mateo computer crimes task force that initiated the search.
In any event, Chen should have been issued a subpoena and a chance to argue his position in court. That’s the law in California. And we expect the courts to enforce it.