Criminal

Boston Police Charge Two Journalists With Felonies For Doing Their Jobs

This is a well-known story to DMLP readers, but it bears repeating today. On October 1, 2007, a lawyer named Simon Glik saw members of the Boston Police arresting a suspect on the Boston Common in a way that he thought was excessive, and began recording the police from several feet away. The police didn't notice him at first, but eventually approached him and asked him if his phone was recording audio along with the video.

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Adding up to 105: The Charges Against Barrett Brown

In December 2011, hacktivist collective Anonymous (in)famously hacked intelligence analysis firm Stratfor Global Intelligence, collecting over 2.7 million emails, including data for over 50,000 credit card numbers, 80,000 email addresses, and more.

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In re Search of Email Account [Redacted]@gmail.com

Date: 

05/28/2010

Threat Type: 

Criminal Investigation

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

James Rosen (holder of email account [redacted]@gmail.com on computer servers operated by Google, Inc., headquartered at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA)

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Case Number: 

10-291-M-01

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Description: 

James Rosen is a national news journalist for the Fox News Channel. On June 11, 2009, Rosen published an article on www.foxnews.com entitled "North Korea Intends to Match U.N. Resolution with New Nuclear Test." His Gmail email account is referenced in the case's court documents as "Redacted@gmail.com."

On May 28, 2010, Reginald B. Reyes, a Special Agent for the FBI filed an application for a search warrant for James Rosen's Gmail account, which was maintained by servers located at Google's headquarters in California. The search warrant application stated that the emails concealed information which, under Fed. R. Crim. P. 41(c), contained: (1) evidence of a crime; (2) contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed; and (3) property designed for use, intended for use, or used in committing a crime. The warrant application stated that the search was related to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793, which governs the "gathering, transmitting or losing defense information."

The search warrant application included an affidavit by Agent Reyes in support of the search warrant. Reyes' affidavit said the warrant was pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2703 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000aa and permissible as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has jurisdiction over the offense under investigation. Reyes states that he believes there is probable cause that Rosen violated Section 793(d) as an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator to Stephen Kim.

That same day, a search and seizure warrant was issued by a U.S. Magistrate Judge to be executed on or before June 11, 2010. The warrant granted the search of electronic e-mails and other electronic data of Rosen's account, and permitted the officer executing the warrant to delay notice to Rosen for 30 days under 18 U.S.C. § 2705. An attachment to the issued warrant stated that Google, Inc. was not permitted to notify "any other person, including the subscriber(s) of Redacted@gmail.com" of the warrant's existence. Google, Inc. was required to make exact duplicates of all information from the email account and send this information to Agent Reyes in overnight mail or facsimile. The attachment asked for any commuications between Rosen's account and 3 other accounts, including anothe Gmail account and two Yahoo! mail accounts; the usernames of all three accounts are also redacted in the public record. The warrant attachment referenced Rosen's connection to Stephen Kim, who was under investigation by the FBI for allegedly telling a reporter that North Korea may test a nuclear bomb.

On May 21, 2013, the government filed a motion to unseal entire docket of Rosen's case, including the application for the search warrant, the attachment to the warrant, Reyes' affidavit, and the granted warrant, with only names and dates of birth redacted for privacy reasons. 

On May 22, 2013, the court granted the government's motion in a memo and order that directed the case to be a matter of public record. The memo detailed clerical errors which stalled the placement of the redacted warrant and related materials into public record. The memo apologized for the administrative errors and instituted the inclusion of a new tab on the Court's website solely for the publication of search warrants. Executed warrants will be part of the public record unless a "separate sealing order is entered to redact all or portions" upon a showing by the government as required by United States v. Hubbard, 650 F.2d 293 (D.C. Cir. 1980) and Washington Post v. Robinson, 935 F.2d 282 (D.C. Cir. 1991).

In a separate order that same day, the court ordered that the Clerk place on the public docket a redacted version of the government's motion to unseal entire docket and that the government produce unredacted versions of all unsealed material to the defense in United States v. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim.

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Florida Bill Targets “Mugshot Websites,” Hits Crime Reporting

A new bill proposed by Florida legislator Carl Zimmermann seeks to end “mugshot websites,” a relatively new industry that exploits the marriage of the internet and open records laws in order to make a profit.

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The Impact of "Aaron's Law" on Aaron Swartz's Case

Like so many around the greater Berkman community I was stunned and saddened to hear that Aaron Swartz committed suicide late last week. I truly admired Aaron's work and consider the future of Internet policy substantially worse off without his presence. For more on his life and work, I'd encourage you to visit this gathering of Berkman blog feeds, which this week is filled with posts that discuss his life and work in greater detail.

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Warrantless Text Message Search Threatens to Scuttle Murder Case

Cell phones allow us not only to communicate with one another, but also to take and store pictures, “check in” from a location, balance our checking account, and even update our blogs. When the content of a cell phone may help the police to solve a crime, the legality of the search of both the phone and its content is of crucial importance. However, the law of warrantless searches of cell phones is not yet settled.

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Lèse Majesté: 16th Century Censorship Meets 21st Century Law

When hearing the expression “lèse majesté,” images of the Queen of Hearts ordering heads to be chopped off ASAP may come to mind. Marie-Antoinette, the queen who was once a “majesté” in France, herself lost her head during the French Revolution. Surely, the crime of lèse majesté is now a thing of the past?

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Does Washington State's SB 6251 Require Online Classified Sites to Monitor All Third-Party Content?

The trafficking of children for sex in the United States is an appalling and very real problem, which a new Washington state law means to eliminate by targeting websites that offer classified advertising for escort services. But many fear the law poses a serious threat to free speech on the Internet by imposing upon online service providers the burdensome duty to monitor, vet, and otherwise censor third-party content.

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DMLP Amicus Update: Narrow Victory in Massachusetts Anti-Counterfeiting Case

The DMLP recently appeared as an amicus curiae in Commonwealth v. Busa, a case brought in Boston Municipal Court under Massachusetts's anti-counterfeiting law, M.G.L. ch. 266 § 147 ("Section 147").

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DMLP files Amicus Brief Against Massachusetts's 'Anti-Counterfeiting' Law

Earlier this week the CMLP (under its new name, the Digital Media Law Project) sought leave to file an amicus brief in Boston Municipal Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Busa, which concerns a prosecution under Massachusetts's anti-counterfeiting law, M.G.L.

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Suffolk County Police Department v. Datz

Date: 

07/29/2011

Threat Type: 

Police Activity

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Philip Datz

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

Legal Counsel: 

Robert Balin, Samuel Bayard, and Alison Schary, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP; Corey Stoughton, New York Civil Liberties Union; Mickey Osterreicher, National Press Photographers Association (Of Counsel)

Publication Medium: 

Broadcast

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

According to CBS, on July 29, 2011, Philip Datz ("Datz") was in Bohemia, New York filming police activity following a car chase as a videographer for the Stringer News Service. During the course of his filming, Suffolk County Police Sergeant Michael Milton ("Milton") approached and ordered him to leave. Datz moved approximately a block from where he was initially located and continued to film the police activity. Milton approached Datz a second time, arrested him, and seized his camera and videotape. (Datz's recording of the encounter can be viewed here.)

Datz was charged with obstructing governmental administration, N.Y. Penal Law § 195.05. The charge was later dismissed.

On April 11, 2012, Datz filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in the Eastern District of New York against Milton and Suffolk County, alleging that the police violated Datz's rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, Article I, Sections 8 and 12 of the New York State Constitution, as well as the Privacy Protection Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000aa). The complaint also contains claims of false arrest, assault, and battery. According to the complaint, Suffolk County Police seized the videotape from his camera as evidence and held it until one hour after his release that evening.

The complaint also makes several allegations  in support for its demand for injunctive relief against Suffolk County barring the county from obstructing journalists and members of the public who are recording police activity in public places. These allegations include several other incidents where Suffolk County police and firemen ordered Datz to stop filming police activity from public property, and some instances the police deliberately expanded crime scene perimeters to keep the press from filming crime scenes. 

Sergeant Michael Milton answered the complaint on May 2, 2012.

The case is currently in discovery. As of February 2014, dispositive motions are due March 24, 2014.

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A U.S. First: Juror Gets Jail in Fallout Over His 'Friending' of Defendant

At a recent presentation during which I reviewed a number of cases and court rule changes regarding juror use of social media and the Internet during trial, an audience member asked me why American courts appeared to be so lax in the face of such juror misbehavior, such as the Texas case in which a juror who sent a "friend" request to the defendant in a personal injury case

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Tarek Mehanna and the Freedom for the Thought That We Hate

Suppose you and I are friends. We've grown up together. We've shared conversation; we've traded ideas. Now suppose that as I've gotten older, I've changed. In fact, I've become a zealot. One day I bring up the topic of suicide bombers. And, to your surprise, I actually sympathize with people who strap explosives to their chests and go looking for crowds of innocents.

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Milwaukee Police Dept. v. Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Date: 

11/02/2011

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Kristyna Wentz-Graff

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Withdrawn

Description: 

Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel photographer Kristyna Wentz-Graff was arrested by Milwaukee police while Wentz-Graff was photographing a protest by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students at the school's campus on Nov. 2, 2011. Wentz-Graff, a three-time Wisconsin "Photographer of the Year," was later released without charge.  She said she was never told why she was arrested.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn later defended the arrest, reports the Journal Sentinel.  Flynn said that the officers arrested Wentz-Graff because they thought she was a protester, and that Wentz-Graff's status as a journalist was "not obvious to the officers."  The Journal Sentinel ran a photo of Wentz-Graff's arrest that showed her press badge clearly visible.  The paper also quoted Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who had seen video of Wentz-Graff's arrest, saying that "It appeared very clear to me that she was a photojournalist," and that he "very much support[s] her First Amendment right to be there."

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Milwaukee Police Dept. v. Clint Fillinger

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Date: 

09/21/2011

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Clint Fillinger

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Broadcast

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

On September 21, 2011, Clint Fillinger, a photojournalist, was arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer after police confronted Fillinger while he was attempting to film at the scene of a house firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Fillinger, a 68-year-old journalist with 45 years of experience, was filming from outside the area that officers had cordoned off with police tape, where several members of the public had also gathered.

Fillinger's raw video of the incident was published by his employer, Fox6 Now. The raw video shows two officers approaching Fillinger and demanding that he step back.  The video appears to show Fillinger complying as he stated that he had a right to be there as a member of the public.  The officers tell him that he must move for his own safety.  Fillinger ultimately falls to the ground, dropping his camera, though the video does not show the cause. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that Fillinger was the only person asked to move away from the scene.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn told Fox6 the next day that he felt Fillinger was to blame, saying, "If the cameraman had simply complied with the instructions to back off from a working fire, none of this hullabaloo would be taking place."  Fox6 posted the raw video of Flynn's statement on its website.

Several news associations – including the National Press Photographers Association’s Advocacy Committee, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Wisconsin News Photographers Association – have sent letters to Flynn demanding the charges be dropped and the officers involved be investigated and face disciplinary charges if necessary.

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The War on Terror, 'Material Support,' and the First Amendment

The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of organizations it believes engage in terrorist activity, and under federal law it is illegal to provide material support to them.

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