The repercussions continues from that San Francisco police raid on the home of a freelance reporter we reported to you yesterday.
The Radio Television Digital News Association and its Voice of the First Amendment Task Force are the latest 1st Amendment advocates to condemn in the strongest possible terms the May 10 raids on the home and newsroom of San Francisco freelance journalist Bryan Carmody.
“This is an unacceptable overreach by the San Francisco Police Department, which chose to bypass the common practice of obtaining a subpoena in an attempt to compel Carmody to reveal the identity of his confidential source. That would have afforded the journalist his due process rights to go to court in an attempt to protect his source’s identity,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Executive Director. “We call on the San Francisco Police Department to return, immediately, all items confiscated from Carmody, and to observe both the letter and spirit of California’s shield law, which protects journalists from having to reveal the identities of their sources.”
Carmody told the “Los Angeles Times” that officers banged on his door Friday and confiscated dozens of personal items including notebooks, his cellphone, computer, hard drives and cameras.
Carmody was part of a throng of journalists chasing details about the Feb. 22 death of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
He ultimately obtained an incident report that detailed the public defender’s final moments.
Carmody said investigators had asked him a few weeks before last weekend’s raid to identify the source that provided him with the report.
The reporter said he politely declined.
California has a shield law that protects journalists from being held in contempt for refusing to identify their sources, said David Snyder, a lawyer and executive director of the First Amendment Coalition.
“It’s pretty plainly unlawful,” said Snyder, who noted that the statute governing search warrants expressly forbids police from seizing items covered by the shield law. “They are trying to root out the source, and that’s the core of what California’s journalist shield law protects. It’s something you’d expect out of an authoritarian regime, not the city of San Francisco.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the Police Department drew sharp reprimands from city politicians after the report showed up on television newscasts and in print only hours after Adachi, 59, collapsed and later died.
Thus, a clear overreaction.