FREE PRESS — Terence Chea for the Associated Press reports that a judge has ruled that the University of California police illegally
searched the camera of a photojournalist covering a protest outside the
chancellor's campus home.
Superior Judge Yolanda Northridge on Friday invalidated the search
warrant used by UC Berkeley police to review photographs taken by David
Morse at the Dec. 11 demonstration, according to the Oakland-based First
Amendment Project, which represented him.
The judge also ordered
the university to return all copies of Morse's photos, which campus
police were using as part of their investigation into violence and
vandalism the night of the protest.
The First Amendment Project
called the ruling a "huge and hard-fought victory for freedom of the
press," noting that the judge upheld a California law restricting police
searches of journalists' unpublished work.
The UC Police
Department has not had a chance to review the ruling, said Capt. Margo
Bennett. But she said campus police wrote the affidavit for the search
warrant in good faith and a judge signed it.
Morse was covering
the demonstration outside Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's campus residence
for the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, also known as
Morse repeatedly identified himself as a journalist
before he was arrested by campus police, which obtained a search warrant
to look at his photos before he was released on bail, according to the
First Amendment Project.
Morse's attorneys said UC police did not
tell the judge that he had identified himself as a journalist when they
requested the warrant.
That night campus police arrested eight
people after dozens of protesters broke windows, lights and planters
outside of Birgeneau's home. The protesters were demonstrating against
state funding cuts that have led to course cutbacks, faculty furloughs
and sharp fee increases.