updated 07:25 pm EDT, Wed April 28, 2010
Lawyers suggest pursuing sheriff's office
Following claims of misconduct surrounding a task force raid of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home, a lawyer representing the blog suggests the publisher could file a lawsuit against the San Mateo County sheriff's office. The attorney claims California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) violated shield laws protecting journalists from such actions, an opinion shared with other groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Media lawyer Thomas R. Burke argues that a lawsuit is feasible because "search is not the appropriate method in this situation," according to an interview with CNET. Although the prosecutor involved in the case reportedly considered the shield laws before pushing forward, the DA agreed to suspend further searching through the contents of the seized computers until the issue has been resolved.
"Very much to their credit, they aren't just putting their heads into the sand and saying, 'Go away,'" Burke said.
The DA has yet to file formal charges or publicly label the proceedings a criminal investigation. The prosecutor's acknowledgement of the shield laws could be considered an indication that Chen is the target of a criminal probe, as journalists are not protected if their activities are deemed criminal.