Judge: University illegally searched journalist’s camera

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, reports the Associated Press. Alameda County Superior Judge Yolanda Northridge on June 18 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for freedom of the press,” noting that the judge upheld a California law restricting police searches of journalists’ unpublished work.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 a demonstration outside Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s campus residence, during which 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…

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