[Sfbay-video] 2 More Articles on San Francisco Video Journalist
a. mark liiv
mark at whisperedmedia.org
Tue Aug 1 20:37:21 PDT 2006
Josh Wolf Jailed For Refusal to Hand Over Video of Protest
Tue Jul 18 2006 (Modified 08/01/06) Josh Wolf Charged With Civil
Contempt for Refusal to Hand Over Video of Protest
Josh Wolf was taken into custody today after a 9am court hearing on
August 1st. He was found to be in contempt for exercising his first
amendment rights and refusing to provide a federal grand jury with
video footage he shot at the SF G8 protest last summer. He could be
held until the grand jury expires next July. The Society of
Professional Journalists has published a statement in support of Josh.
A press conference was held outside of City Hall at 1pm, and at
2:00pm, the SF Board of Supervisors was to vote on a resolution in
support of Josh's case. Read more
It had widely been feared that Josh would be taken into custody
during his July 20th court date, but the case was continued until
August 1st. The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) believes that the grand
jury is being improperly used to obtain materials which would
normally be protected under California's Reporter Shield Law.
Statement from the National Lawyers Guild
The US Attorney's Office is trying to force Josh Wolf to testify
before the grand jury and hand over a video tape of a protest that
occurred in San Francisco's Mission District last July. "My client's
political activity and free speech activity in the Bay Area as a
journalist and this subpoena, with its associated threat of jail time
for noncompliance, has an incredible chilling effect on his and other
journalist's freedom to gather and disseminate information of groups
who espouse dissident beliefs," said his attorney. California's
shield law, according to a recent court decision on the matter, "is
intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news." In that
decision, the California Court of Appeals in San Jose confirmed that
the law protected internet bloggers just as it protected corporate
news reporters. Federal protections, however, are not as strong.
The Grand Jury Resistance Project reports that if Josh is convicted
on these civil contempt charges, he could be jailed for up to 13
months. The GJRP believes that the grand jury to which Josh Wolf has
been subpoenaed is part of a series of broad and unconstitutional
federal investigations into anarchist and antiwar activity and other
political movements that oppose U.S. policies. Most recently, they
also called for the public to show support on August 1st.
Interview with Josh Wolf | Indybay's Past Coverage of Josh Wolf's
case | Court documents and past news articles on Josh's website
Journalist jailed for refusing to give up tapes of protest
Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Josh Wolf is the freelance journalist who was jailed Tues...
* Printable Version
* Email This Article
(08-01) 12:59 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A freelance journalist was jailed
today for refusing to give videotapes to a federal grand jury that
show an anarchist protest in San Francisco in which a police car was
allegedly set on fire.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup found Josh Wolf in contempt of
court for failing to comply with a subpoena that the grand jury
issued in February for tapes Wolf made of the July 2005 demonstration
in the Mission District. Wolf posted some of the videos on his Web
site -- thisrevolution.blogspot.com/2006/07/1-year-ago.html -- and
sold that footage to local television stations. Federal prosecutors
demanded the rest of the tapes, saying they might contain evidence of
Prosecutors contend that burning a police car is a federal crime
because the San Francisco Police Department receives federal funds.
Wolf and his lawyers accuse the government of manipulating the case
to sidestep California's shield law, which allows journalists to
withhold unpublished material and confidential sources from
prosecutors. There is no federal shield law, and the state law does
not apply in federal court.
Wolf, 24, could be jailed until next July, when the grand jury's term
expires. Alsup denied his requests for bail or for a 10-day stay
while he asks the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the
The case is "a slam dunk for the government,'' the judge said at the
end of a 2 1/2 - hour hearing. Noting that the events Wolf
photographed took place in public and involved no confidential
sources, Alsup said there was a "legitimate need for law enforcement
to have direct images of who was doing what to that police car.''
"Every person, from the president of the United States down to you
and me, has to give information to the grand jury if the grand jury
wants it,'' Alsup said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Finigan told the judge that Wolf was
"placing himself above every other citizen in our society'' by
defying the grand jury. Finigan said the subpoena had been approved
by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as provided by Justice
Department guidelines in cases against journalists.
Wolf's lawyer, Jose Luis Fuentes, argued that requiring journalists
to surrender unpublished material, whether in the form of notes or
unseen videos, would hinder their newsgathering ability and make
their sources less likely to trust them. He urged Alsup to look at
the videos Wolf was withholding and decide whether the government had
a legitimate need for them.
The judge refused, saying Fuentes should have submitted them during
the previous months of briefings and hearings.
Unless a journalist's right to withhold such material is recognized,
"we're not going to have Mr. Wolf or any reporters covering
protests,'' Fuentes told Alsup. "Confidential sources are not going
to come forward. They're (journalists) going to be viewed as
investigative arms of the government.''
The hearing took place three days before another judge is scheduled
to consider the Justice Department's request for contempt-of-court
orders against two Chronicle reporters, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance
Williams, for refusing to reveal their confidential sources of grand
jury testimony. The reporters published articles and a book about
steroids in sports, based in part on closed-door testimony by the
Giants' Barry Bonds and other prominent athletes.
E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko at sfchronicle.com.
More information about the Sfbay-video