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Judge denies unsealing warrant in Gizmodo iPhone saga

updated 11:25 pm EDT, Thu May 6, 2010

Request deferred to another judge

A San Mateo County Judge has rejected a request from media organizations to unseal the search warrant affidavit used in the raid on Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's residence. Judge Stephen Hall denied the request for a hearing over the matter, although the initial decision appears to be based on technical grounds.

Judge Hall has reassigned the request to Judge Clifford Cretan, the judge who originally signed the search warrant used in the raid, according to a CNET report. The proceedings are expected to be delayed until the judge is done presiding over a separate trial.

The DA's office remains opposed to unsealing the affidavit, arguing that prosecutors have the right to "maintain the security of an ongoing investigation, which may well be compromised by the disclosure of the search warrant affidavit. The documents were allegedly sealed to protect the names of several additional persons of interest, until the police have a chance to contact them.

The raid has been criticized by the EFF and Gawker attorneys, as journalists receive special protectionunder state and federal law. The DA's office has defended its decision to go ahead with the search, although it agreed to halt further inspection of Chen's computers and other belongings until the matter has been resolved.

Prosecutors are pursuing the incident as a felony theft investigation initiated by Apple's request. Police have reportedly spoken with the individual who found the prototype, although formal charges have yet to be filed.

by MacNN Staff




    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I smell Steve Blowjobs

    "Judge, I'll go down on you if you don't release the document the media wants. Apple is already being seen as an evil company, and rightly so, however I don't want to make it worse"

    "Ok Steve, you may fire when ready"

  1. davedawgnyc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Journalism shield law?!

    if this gizmodo guy was a real journalist, he would have called apple or the police, not show up with $5000 in cash for merchandise of questionable ownership.

  1. designr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Right-wing nut jobs....

    You right-wing nut jobs are insane. If it weren't for the shield laws you would never have heard about the Pentagon Papers. You would never have heard about Watergate. You would never have heard about Reagan's Iran-Contra drugs-for-guns scheme.

    Oh, wait. You right-wing nut jobs didn't WANT to hear about all those things. And, you didn't want to spend hours and hours scouring the web for every bit of information about the new iPhone prototype so you could b**** about Gizmodo ad nauseam either? Did you?

  1. username0n1ine

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Journalism shield law?!

    LOL! Lets not be to hard on davedawgnyc for his ridiculous post, this is a man who wears stupidity like a badge of honor. Instead of ridiculing this man he should be congratulated for proving science wrong and showing the world thats its possible for a human to live without a brain.

  1. Darchmare

    Joined: Dec 1969



    1. Shield laws are incredibly important in any democracy, for all the reasons designr mentioned. We are well served by them, in principle.

    2. This has absolutely nothing to do with shield laws or protecting the ability of journalists to report on matters of importance. This has to do with knowingly receiving stolen property.

    Apple has done dishonorable things in the past in order to squelch speech about their products. Having police investigate a stolen device is not one of them.

  1. LeeL

    Joined: Dec 1969


    As usual misguided

    Typical leftist approach, attack the individual because you can't debate the topic on the issues.

    1. Gizmodo PUBLISHED the fact that they paid for an item they knew didn't belong to the person that sold it.
    2. It is against California law to buy items from someone who is not the legal owner.
    3. This phone was first offered to another publisher and their lawyer was smart enough to advise against it.

    The point is it appears Gizmodo broke the law, the shield law DOES NOT protect against illegal activity. You can't steal a car and say it was for a story you were writing.

    It is ashamed that AP and the other so called journalist are not as concerned about investigating the current government corruption.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stolen versus found

    I am curious how this would have gone had this event occurred in another state. Not all states claim found items are considered stolen (something I disagree with completely - I do hope the person who found it would return it, but I don't expect them to be charged with a theft for not doing so). Excluding California law, common sense would seem to indicate that if you find it, it is yours. The owner should not have lost the item in the first place. Yes, the finder should have taken to Apple directly (an probably gotten a reward), but this should not be considered a criminal case. Screwed up California law.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nut jobs indeed

    give up your 'facts' list people...your opinions are not facts.

    The police still haven't determined if theft occurred yet - after all this time.

    So, if the police can't figure it out, after many weeks - its going to be quite the hard case to make that the journalist absolutely knew that it was 'stolen' property.

    He is not a policeman. Did he know he was purchasing a device that someone found in a bar? Yes. Did he know that 'made' it stolen property - well for one, it might not make it stolen at all, even in California. The person that found the device did attempt to return it to Apple, and Apple refused the device. Is it really so 'insane' that the person had the bad judgement to believe Apple? Not really.

    So, back up your accusation just don't have the facts, the police don't have all the decision to prosecute the person that found the device has been made, and the idea that the journalist will be proven to have known he was accepting stolen property - thats quite the stretch.

  1. PRoth

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If the guy was a real journalist, he would have told the guy holding the "missing" phone, hey, come with me and show me what this thing is, and what it does. The "journalist" would have had a legal leg to stand on. And the "source" could have merrily returned the prototype with no "harm" done.

    Real journalists get "stories" from "sources" and present the facts thereby remaining impartial.

    This just in!!! Journalism is DEAD! Tweet that, suckers!!!

  1. equitek

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Left/Right LIberal/Conservative

    Anyone that made any comment with any of those words in it (unless replying to someone who used them first) can just kiss my a**. ;)

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